Independent Lives is proud to support the Open Statement from Disabled People's Organisations and Allies. The statement highlights how adversely affected Disabled People have been from the effects of Coronavirus and urges the Government and NHS to recognise and respond to this fact. 

You can read the statement below and please share on your own social media. 

Open Statement from Disabled People’s Organisations and Allies - February 2021

Coronavirus has hit disabled people hard. 60% of deaths from coronavirus have been those of Disabled People.

Disabled People have struggled to access healthcare, social care and food and many have been left without the £20 weekly uplift given to those on Universal Credit.

We ask Government and the NHS to recognise the enormous impact of coronavirus on the lives of Disabled People. 

We urge Government and NHS to respond more urgently to protect disabled people from coronavirus.

We ask that the needs of Disabled People are met in more personalised and accessible ways.

In particular, we urge that action be taken to ensure that:

  • The letter to 1.7 million new shielders and 2.2 million existing shielders is sent in plain English and accessible formats and that sources of information and support are provided both digitally and non-digitally.
  • Everyone who has a learning disability or who is autistic or has a cognitive impairment is included in priority group 6, to ensure early vaccination.
  • Disabled People of working age living in residential accommodation or hospitals are included in priority group 6, to ensure early vaccination.
  • Disabled People know that they can contact their doctor for advice on whether they should be included in priority vaccination group 6.
  • Everyone with a learning disability or who is autistic or has a cognitive impairment has their health records checked, to ensure that any wrongful Do Not Attempt Resuscitation notices are removed.

1.7 million new Shielders

Following a research study identifying factors, which increase risk of serious illness from COVID-19, the following factors have been identified, age, sex registered at birth, pre-existing conditions, ethnicity and BMI.

Patient medical records in England have been analysed on the basis of these factors and as a result 1.7 million people have now been added to the shielding list. A risk tool has also been developed that can be used by clinicians to identify others who should be included.

The new cohort of Shielders will be sent a letter advising them to stay at home as much as possible until 31 March. The over 2 million people already shielding will also be given this advice.

800,000 new Shielders will be prioritised for vaccination under priority group 6. The remaining 900,000 have already been offered vaccination during the first wave.

Fazilet Hadi, Head of Policy at DR UK said “People identified to be at serious risk of illness from coronavirus should be supported and protected and it is fantastic that our understanding of risk factors has improved. However, receiving a shielding letter at this late stage, could cause people serious anxiety and concern.

We would urge the NHS to ensure that the letter is simple to understand and provided in accessible formats. The letter should offer practical and emotional support that can be reached offline, as well as digitally. People should be able to seek advice on employment issues and be supported to receive food and medicines.”

Click here to read the Government press release on this story and the technology being used to identify those at high risk.