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BASW England responds to news about urgent proceedings issued against SoS for Health and Social Care - as the number of people with learning disabilities dying from Covid-19 continues to rise

​​​​​​​The Government needs to change vaccine prioritisation to prevent further deaths

BASW England welcomes news of progress concerning action being taken against the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, relating to the call for priority access to the Covid-19 vaccine for all individuals with learning disabilities on an equal basis with other highly clinically vulnerable individuals.

An application for judicial review has been issued by Bindmans LLP and 39 Essex Street Chambers, challenging the way in which access to the Covid-19 vaccine has been prioritised. 

An urgent hearing is being sought and if the claim succeeds the Court will be asked to order the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision as to priority for the vaccines. The Secretary of State will respond to the claim on Friday 5 February 2021.[1]

Whilst the above news is welcome in holding the government to account and addressing the inequalities in access to the vaccine, BASW England calls for urgent action in light of the number of people with learning disabilities dying from Covid-19. 

The summary below taken from the latest LeDeR report is courtesy of Professor Chris Hatton[2] and reveals the shocking number of people with learning disabilities losing their lives to Covid-19: 

  • People with learning disabilities dying from COVID-19 notified to the LeDeR team programme is around 60 people per week and still rising sharply (there is a lag on notifications) 
  • There is a similar picture for people flagged as a person with learning disabilities or an autistic person dying of COVID-19 in hospital - around 70 people dying every week.

Maris Stratulis, BASW England National Director, said: “The data from the latest LeDeR report is horrifying. We are already painfully aware from the study by Public Health England[3] that  the increased number of deaths  of  people with learning disabilities is  30 times higher than the rate in the same age group without disabilities and by a greater margin than for the general population, across all adult age groups.”

"All losses are unacceptable. The disproportionate number: 60 people with learning disabilities losing their life to Covid-19 each week, as highlighted in the latest LeDeR report, is incomprehensible now that we have a programme for safe and effective vaccination.”

"Any further deaths must be prevented by the government implementing a change to vaccine prioritisation with immediate effect.“

BASW England responded immediately when the lack of priority for the vaccine for people with learning disabilities became known. A statement was issued in support of the legal challenge, which also called for the vaccine to be made available to all people with learning disabilities.

[1] https://www.bindmans.com/news/access-to-the-covid-19-vaccine-for-those-with-learning-disabilities-urgent-proceedings-issued-against-matt-hancock

[2] https://twitter.com/chrishattoncedr/status/1354833799184584705?s=20

[3]  https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/covid-19-deaths-of-people-with-learning disabilities