In March 2022, the government set out its plans for a Covid inquiry, to look at the response to the pandemic. It published a terms of reference (ToR) document which is a lists of the aims of the inquiry and what it will focus on.
As someone with lived experience of disability and long-term health conditions, you might be reading this and thinking that this inquiry is much needed. However, shockingly, the ToR does not specifically mention disabled people at all.
As a result, the terrible impact of the Covid pandemic on disabled people risks being deleted from history.
Disability Positive and a group of other disabled people’s organisations have asked the government to make sure that the experiences of disabled people are part of the inquiry, and that current government policy should also be urgently reviewed.
In a letter sent to the inquiry by Bhatt Murphy Solicitors, on behalf of the six organisations I mention above, we criticise policy decisions made by the government, where poor outcomes for disabled people should have been predicted, but the decisions were taken anyway.
In the early stages of the pandemic in 2020, Disability Positive heard from our members about issues including access to food, vaccines, difficulties with wearing face coverings, as well as problems with the employment of Personal Assistants (PAs), getting supplies of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and serious concerns about the use of do not resuscitate orders (DNRs). These problems left disabled people unable to live well and often isolated and unsafe.
We communicated with the government about this at the relevant times, but little meaningful change was put in place.
The pandemic has been a traumatic experience for many, but for disabled people it has been even more so, with many of its impacts still continuing.
The government simply ignored the needs of people with lived experience of disability and long-term conditions. It is so important that the inquiry looks into to how this was allowed to happen, so that it can never be repeated, and that in future the government engages much more effectively with disabled people and our organisations.
By Jessica Tait ~ Policy and Communications Manager, Disability Positive