Disabled people have faced substantial harms in terms of higher mortality rates, reductions in essential care, and increasing poverty.
A new report by the Scottish Government has highlighted the health, social and economic harms that the COVID-19 pandemic has caused for disabled people. (this link will take you away from our website) Noting that mortality rates amongst disabled people were 2.4 times high for women and 2.0 times higher for men than for non-disabled people in England and Wales, the report considers that Scotland’s demographic makeup is comparable, and therefore the figures will be broadly similar when the National Records of Scotland publish them later this month.
The report also re-iterated the deeply concerning findings of research showing that people with learning disabilities were more than 3 times more likely to die from COVID-19 than the general population. They were twice as likely to become infected with COVID-19, and twice as likely to have a severe outcome.
Beyond the direct effects of COVID-19 infection, many of the wider impacts that have become apparent over the past year are listed. These include the disruption of normal health and social care support, increased loneliness, poverty, and mental ill-health, and high rates of digital exclusion.
Lack of public transport options and space for physical distancing has made it particularly difficult for disabled people, for example wheelchair users, to manage. 99% of respondents to a Disability Equality Scotland poll in May 2020 stated they had experienced issues with physical distancing during exercise and essential journeys. Barriers to employment and access to food were also given as major negative impacts.