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Welsh government accused of neglecting disabled people during pandemic

a nurse with a disabled patient both wearing facemasks

An inquiry has heard from two organisations on how disabled people suffered through the Covid-19 pandemic.

The Welsh Government was accused of ignoring the needs of vulnerable individuals through lockdown causing “mass death and real suffering.”

A joint statement from Disability Wales and Disability Rights UK said the neglect in not putting plans into place resulted in a “lack of access to food and essential resources, collapse of health, care and independent living services, and the suspension of disabled people’s rights”. 

Figures show 68 percent of people who died from Covid-19 in Wales were disabled, in the UK the total was 59 percent.

The organisations added that according to government statistics people with learning disabilities were between three and eight times more likely to die from the virus in Wales compared to non-disabled people.

Professor Debbie Foster, co-chairperson of the Welsh Government’s Disability Taskforce told a barrister that there was a “feeling of inevitability” from Westminster that more disabled people were going to die through the pandemic.

She added a higher percentage of vulnerable individuals were expected to die from Covid-19 and disabled people were seen as “dispensable”.

Chief Executive of Disability Wales, Rhian Davies said: “The Covid-19 Inquiry public hearings in Wales are enabling us to highlight the stark reality of life for disabled people during the pandemic: the isolation, loneliness, and confusion as well as the loss of power, voice and citizenship.

“There was nothing inevitable about the 68 per cent of deaths from COVID-19 among disabled people in Wales."

She added: “We want answers as to why the lives of disabled people appeared so expendable and moreover to ensure that never again do we face the mass death and real suffering experienced by so many during the pandemic.”

A spokesperson for the Welsh Government refused to comment whilst the inquiry is ongoing.

They added: "Welsh ministers and government officials will be giving detailed evidence over the next three weeks.

"We have made it clear that we continue to engage fully with the inquiry to ensure all actions and decisions are fully and properly scrutinised."

[ As of 7 January 2024, over 774 million confirmed cases and over seven million deaths have been reported globally. ]

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