Disabled people have suffered range of profoundly adverse effects from pandemic, MPs report

The Covid crisis has had a major negative impact on disabled people – including “starkly disproportionate deaths”, MPs have said.

An independent inquiry into the situation and the difficulty for disabled people to access services during the pandemic has been called for by the Commons Women and Equalities Committee.

The committee stated: “Disabled people have suffered a range of profoundly adverse effects from the pandemic, including starkly disproportionate deaths.”

The MPs added: “Potentially discriminatory critical care guidelines and doctors’ blanket use of do not attempt resuscitation (DNAR) notices caused disabled people great distress and anxiety, leaving them feeling that their lives were less valued than others.

“A robust response is needed to restore disabled people’s confidence that their rights and needs are given equal consideration.”

Committee chairwoman Caroline Nokes (pictured) said disabled people had faced problems with unequal access to food, and potentially discriminatory practices in health and social care services.

“Existing systemic problems in education for children and young people with special educational needs have worsened,” she said.

“The Government has been far too slow to address concerns about engagement and communications: we need genuinely effective mechanisms by which disabled people can influence policies and practices which affect them, and ensure that hard-won rights and equalities are not eroded.”

The report called for better access to food supplies for disabled people, including in emergency situations.

The report said the Government should “ensure that local support arrangements replacing the national shielding programme are adequate, and must support its assertion that ‘we need to get away from the food parcel model’ with an ongoing assessment of need”.

The report noted: “The widespread adoption of continuous mask wearing has made effective communication impossible for people who lip read.

“The committee welcomes the procurement of 250,000 clear facemasks for health and social care providers, but we are not aware of any analysis of whether this is adequate.

“The Government must provide an update on distribution of these, its assessment of the level of need across health and social care, and plans for further procurement and distribution.”

The study also called for better communication by the Government with disabled people, such as the use of sign language during statements by ministers.

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