Iain Gray MSP has welcomed a call from parliamentary colleague Jackie Baillie for the Scottish Government to take urgent action to protect the human rights of those with learning disabilities during the pandemic.
In her capacity as Convener of the Parliament’s Cross-Party Group on Learning Disability, Ms Baillie has written to the Health Secretary, Jeane Freeman, following statistics showing that those with learning disabilities are three times more likely to die from Covid-19 than others.
Throughout the pandemic, there have been incidences of ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ notices handed out to those with learning disabilities and there are ongoing issues concerning access to vaccination.
Commenting, Iain Gray MSP said:
“All too often during this pandemic those living with learning disabilities have been forgotten about or not listened to.
“The human rights of those with learning disabilities have been disregarded repeatedly, and still we are hearing that many people with learning disabilities are struggling to access vaccination.
“Those with learning disabilities are three times more likely to die from Covid-19 than others. This is unacceptable and has undoubtedly been affected by the decisions taken that fail to recognise their human rights.
“I welcome Jackie Baillie’s call for the Health Secretary to take immediate action to protect those with learning disabilities and ensure that this never happens again.”
In the letter, Ms Baillie calls on the Scottish Government to:
- Urgently clarify the number of DNACPR orders issued in Scotland for people who have a learning disability during the pandemic.
- Confirm the status of guidance issued to health and social care staff since the first wave of the pandemic, that having a learning disability is not sufficient rationale for applying a DNACPR order, and will not be tolerated.
- Urgently issue guidance to primary care staff to encourage all people who have a learning disability to come forward as Priority Group 6 for the vaccination, in line with the approach taken by NHS England this week.
- Urgently issue guidance to ensure that all people who have a learning disability who live in a care home setting have been offered the vaccine, regardless of age.
- Take steps to ensure that the visibility of people who have a learning disability in public health data is improved.
- Reassure people who have a learning disability in Scotland that their social care support will be restored to pre-pandemic levels as soon as it is safe to do so.
- Confirm progress for the cohort of people identified in the 2018 Coming Home report in leaving long stay institutional settings.