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Health and care services urged to improve engagement with Disabled people

27 July 2022

The King’s Fund and Disability Rights UK have published a new report: ‘Towards a new partnership between disabled people and health and care services: getting our voices heard’.

Disabled people face poorer experiences of – and worse access to – health and care services than people who aren’t disabled and these health inequalities have been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic. In this context, it’s vitally important to include disabled people in designing and planning health and care system responses.

The report captures what we heard from a large range of people involved in the co-production of health and care services, including people with lived experience of disability, representatives from 15 disabled people’s organisations (DPOs) disabled people working in health and care and NHS and local authority representatives.

We argue there is an urgent need to improve disabled people’s experience of health and care services. The work of integrated care systems (ICSs) and place-based partnerships offer the opportunity to do this, provided they learn from what has and hasn’t worked in the past.

Ensuring disabled people’s voices are listened to requires constant attention. Health and care professionals need to value disabled people’s expertise through properly recognising the value of lived experience and ensure disabled people’s voices are central to any plans right from the start. Disabled health and care staff are also potential partners in this work, with their perspectives of both using and delivering services.

While there are good examples of disabled people being involved in services, we found this is far from widespread. We heard many stories where involvement of disabled people’s voices wasn’t happening or felt tokenistic.

Our report sets out accessible advice for health and care services and DPOs alike, to provide a comprehensive resource outlining what true partnership working could look like.