-A A +A
Select color visibility that suits you Basic theme Dark theme Darker theme Text only

Pandemic highlights health inequalities for Learning Disabled People

16 December 2020

A Westminster Hall debate has been held on the impact of Covid-19 on Learning Disabled People.

Christian Matheson MP told the debate: “Health inequality for people with learning disabilities has been evident for decades; even during non-Covid times, there were three preventable deaths every day. In 2004, it was reported that 37% of deaths of people with learning disabilities were preventable, and, in 2017, the Equality and Human Rights Commission found that 42% of people with learning disabilities died prematurely.

“Despite clear data showing those disproportionate health inequalities, very little has been achieved in tackling the issue in the intervening years. The pandemic has highlighted the issues that many people with learning disabilities face and the lack of understanding in our society of their needs. Things need to change, and quickly; these are deaths that can be prevented and lives that should be lived.

“The pandemic has provided a wave of challenges for the NHS and care systems; we do recognise the workers there for their hard work and their sacrifices. However, underlying the struggles faced by the NHS this year are 10 years of austerity and cuts to our public services. It is the most vulnerable who suffer most from these cuts.

“In addition to the historic health inequalities, the pandemic has only made things worse and had an even greater, disproportionate impact on people with learning disabilities. They face reduced access to vital care and support, as well as to valued activities and day centres. Increased isolation and loneliness, during the lockdowns, have also had a profound effect on their mental health and will leave lasting effects on their health and wellbeing.

“This isolation and loneliness is exacerbated because people with learning disabilities are less likely to have access to technology, which so many people relied on to stay in touch during the pandemic. Professor Jane Seale from the Open University found that, before the pandemic, there was evidence to show that people with learning disabilities already experienced significant digital exclusion, and that this had a devastating impact on their mental health and wellbeing.”

Read the debate transcript here