People with a learning disability and autism faced inequalities long before coronavirus – it's time for change

There has been a deep, historical inequity in the care and support for these individuals, often damaging their health and wellbeing, life expectancy, and in extreme cases placing them open to abuse, says Saffron Cordery

Wednesday 26 August 2020 12:00
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The NHS has committed to prioritising the improvement of the care and support for people with a learning disability and autistic people over the next decade
The NHS has committed to prioritising the improvement of the care and support for people with a learning disability and autistic people over the next decade

A harsh light has been shone on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on certain groups in society. But this also includes people with a learning disability and autistic people. As emerging evidence from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) reports, there has been a significant increase in deaths of these groups of individuals, and the Office for National Statistics has highlighted the uneven impact of coronavirus and the wider social consequences on disabled people more broadly.

Yet, people with a learning disability and autistic people were facing a distinct set of significant challenges long before the outbreak of Covid-19. There has been a deep, historical inequity in the development, commissioning and provision of care and support for these groups of individuals, often damaging their health and wellbeing, life expectancy, and in extreme cases placing them open to abuse.

Alongside these challenges, we see increasing demand, workforce shortages – particularly of specialist staff, and constrained funding for high-quality services in the community and social care. These issues are placing unsustainable pressures on the health and care system and mean too many people do not have timely access to the care and support that they need, from diagnosis and throughout their lives.

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