Healthcare inequalities of people with learning disabilities exacerbated by Covid-19

Olivia Miller
Picture by Unsplash

Dr Jill Bradshaw of the University’s Tizard Centre comments on the healthcare inequalities experienced by people with learning difficulties during the Covid-19 pandemic, following reports that medical treatment was withheld for many. She said:

‘We know that people with learning disabilities are at greater risk from Covid-19. They are more likely to contract Covid-19, be more severely affected if they do test positive for Covid-19 and are three times more likely than people without learning disabilities to die from Covid-19. Reports into the deaths of people with learning disabilities from Covid-19 showed that people with learning disabilities who died from Covid-19 were younger (just 4% of deaths were from people with learning disabilities aged 85 years and older).

‘People with learning disabilities experience inequalities throughout their lives. This includes inequalities in health and access to healthcare and in wellbeing. People with learning disabilities are more likely to experience social isolation, difficulties in finding employment and are more likely to live in poverty. These inequalities existed before Covid-19 and are likely to have been exacerbated during the Covid-19 pandemic.

‘It is unacceptable that people with learning disabilities had more difficulties in accessing healthcare, including access to tests, specialist learning disability services, and to NHS111. More needs to be done to make services accessible to people with learning disabilities and those who support them.’

Dr Jill Bradshaw is a Senior Lecturer in Intellectual and Developmental Disability at the University of Kent’s Tizard Centre. Alongside Dr Nick Gore from the Tizard Centre, Dr Bradshaw is part of a UK study looking at Coronavirus and People with Learning Disabilities. They have just completed the second wave of data collection. They have been talking to people with learning disabilities and surveying family carers/paid support staff of people with learning disabilities. You can read about some of the findings here: Results and what we’ve learnt so far.

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