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Covid-19 inquiry must focus on adults with learning disabilities

Mencap is calling for the forthcoming independent public inquiry into the government’s handling of the Covid-19 pandemic to address the high death rate of people with a learning disability.

Boris Johnson said the inquiry will take place in spring 2022 and will examine the decisions ‘in the cold light of day’ and ‘identify the key issues that will make a difference for the future’.

Learning disability charity Mencap said the inquiry must focus on the impact the virus has had on working-age disabled adults who live in care homes, including people with a learning disability, whose suffering has often been forgotten.

Dan Scorer, head of policy at Mencap, said: ‘The pandemic has caused so much devastation in care homes across the UK.

‘Yet there has been little focus on the impact on working-age disabled adults who live in care homes, including people with a learning disability. Their suffering has often been forgotten.

‘People with a learning disability are at a far higher risk of dying from Covid than the general population.

‘Even before the pandemic, many did not receive the level of healthcare treatment they deserved and were more likely to die avoidably and die younger.

‘The forthcoming independent inquiry into the handling of the pandemic must address the high death rate of people with a learning disability, and set out recommendations for urgent system change to address the shocking levels of premature death and health inequalities experienced by people with a learning disability.’

This comes after a report by Public Health England found that the death rate for people with learning disabilities in England with Covid-19 was up to six times higher during the first wave of the pandemic than the general population.

The death rate for people aged 18-34 with learning disabilities was 30 times higher than the rate in the same age group without disabilities, researchers found.

Among people with learning disabilities, the rate of Covid-19 deaths for adults in residential care was higher than the rates of Covid-19 deaths of adults with learning disabilities generally.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Social Care Today spoke with support workers who said they had been denied PPE and were told to leave service users, unsupported in the street.

Photo Credit – Pixabay

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