In times of crisis the rights of disabled people are the first to be slashed, despite us being amongst the categories most in need of particular support in the coronavirus pandemic.
The UK government’s emergency Coronavirus Act, according to Disability Rights UK, amounts to a suspension of the Care Act 2014 and of parts of the Mental Health Act. It undermines the rights of disabled people to social care by removing the duty local authorities have to provide it. It also relieves councils of the duty to fulfil the social, health and social care needs listed in individual disabled pupils’ education health and care (EHC) plan. The Coronavirus (Scotland) Bill contains similar measures.
The effects of this legislation are already apparent. Inclusion Scotland have reported they have already heard of care packages being withdrawn by local councils (Inclusion Scotland newsletter 5 April 2020) and DPAC have denounced a situation in which disabled people who have been instructed to self-isolate have been denied priority in receiving food deliveries because they are not on the ‘Clinically Extremely Vulnerable’ Government list. DPAC are mounting a legal challenge.
“COVID-19 Guidance: Clinical Advice” to safeguard the rights of disabled and older people. They insist the Guidance must explicitly forbid the application of blanket policies in areas such as ‘Do Not Resuscitate’ decisions and likewise must forbid ‘basing decisions to refuse access to critical care on the basis of age or mental or physical disability which is not clinically relevant to the prospect of survival.’