A new report by Abena Oppong-Asare, Labour MP for Erith and Thamesmead, is a “damning” analysis of the disproportionate impacts disabled people have faced throughout the COVID-19 crisis.
The report highlights several areas in which disabled people have been “completely forgotten about” and calls on the Government to fund user-led organisations as essential infrastructure in response.
Amongst the issues raised by disabled people in the report are accessibility of healthcare, food, social care, transport and employment.
One Erith and Thamesmead constituent has had 17 hospital appointments cancelled since the start of the pandemic.
Another case study from a constituent highlights how disabled people have faced barriers accessing transport, Osayuki Igbinoba said:
“During the start of the pandemic, on my way home from work, a woman working on the platform said she would not bring the ramp for me to board the train. Apparently they had been ‘instructed by their manager not to assist disabled passengers because of social distancing’. After a long discussion, they reluctantly agreed to bring the ramp.”
Adding: “Disabled people should be included in the government’s plans in all areas of society. Disabled people have been treated like an afterthought during this pandemic and as lockdown eases.”
Concern was raised about suspension of the Care Act 2014 at the beginning of the pandemic, this new report finds that these concerns were valid and that some local authorities are using the suspension as a way of managing legal liabilities.
Members of Greenwich Association of Disabled People, who met with Abena Oppong-Asare MP, said they had failed to be provided with PPE by their local council.
Residents on the shielding list in the London Borough of Bexley had their food deliveries stopped prior to the easing of lockdown restrictions for people shielding.
Abena Oppog-Asare MP, who authored the report looking at the impacts of COVID-19 on protected characteristics in Erith and Thamesmead, said:
“I have been contacted by several disabled people with shocking accounts of how they have been treated during the pandemic. When you talk to disabled people’s organisations the list of barriers and problems they are facing is never ending.
This report is truly damning of the Government’s response to COVID-19 and shows how disabled people have been completely forgotten about. The pandemic is far from over and disabled people are likely to face the impacts of COVID-19 for far longer than none disabled people, the Government urgently needs to start listening and acting on these issues.”
The report goes on to call for greater funding for local authorities to support the increased need for health and care services following a reduced service during COVID-19, an increase to the existing Disability Support Allowance and a focus on accessible infrastructure as lockdown is eased.