Yet another research has confirmed that the Coronavirus pandemic has a disproportionate impact on people with disabilities, especially those with learning disabilities, with higher death rates.
The recent Public Health England report shows people with learning disabilities are 6.3 times more likely to die from coronavirus than the rest of the population shows urgent action is required, according to a learning disability and palliative care expert from London’s Kingston University and St George’s, University of London.
The report also revealed that young adults with learning disabilities, aged 18-34, are 30 times more likely to die of COVID-19 than those without. Professor Irene Tuffrey-Wijne was quoted saying that these worrying figures highlighted just how vulnerable people with learning disabilities are during a pandemic.
“At the start of the pandemic, families and learning disability services tried to draw attention to the fact people with learning disabilities were going to be so much more vulnerable to the effects of the pandemic. Devastatingly, this has been made even worse by the lack of support given to them,” Professor Tuffrey-Wijne said, reports MedicalXpress.
Professor Tuffrey-Wijne, the world’s first professor of palliative care for people with learning disabilities, believes more assistance was needed to help people with learning disabilities cope with and understand lockdown restrictions, and that they should have had access to regular testing.
Shortages in the availability of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) for healthcare staff at the start of COVID-19 was also among the causes of the death rate, Professor Tuffrey-Wijne said. “It highlights serial failures in United Kingdom’s healthcare system. We’ve seen problems around testing and PPE at the beginning of the pandemic where the response was slow and these weren’t addressed quickly enough,” she said.
The review was commissioned by the UK’s Department of Health and Social Care to look at deaths from COVID-19 of people with learning disabilities and the factors impacting the risk of death. Since its release, the expert has named three urgent steps that need to take place to drive down the mortality rate of those with learning disabilities.