The independent London newspaper

Measures in the virus crisis threaten the lives of disabled people

24 April, 2020

• THE reality for disabled people, mainly women, is that the measures against coronavirus are threatening our lives through starvation, denial of medical treatment and social care.

Most self-isolating sick and disabled people are not on the government’s “vulnerable” register to get food and medicine.

Women in Camden, Greenwich, Newham and Southwark, many who are women of colour, already suffering discrimination, have told us they can neither get supermarket deliveries nor stand in queues.

Nationally at least 1.5million people are missing food and more would starve without the unwaged family carers, volunteers, Muslim and other charities delivering meals.

In March we asked Camden to consider disabled people who had dropped out of social care due to unaffordable charges after the 2017 increase. They replied listing the usual channels for referrals. But only they know who all their former users are.

By contrast, Hammersmith & Fulham, the only council to make homecare free, is proactive.

Over 40 per cent of NHS workers, 50 per cent of doctors and 20 per cent of social care staff are immigrant, risking their lives despite the “hostile environment” and the threat of deportation, because the PM, who owes them his life, delayed getting the protective equipment they need.

Labour should be speaking out. But Sir Keir Starmer’s article in the Mail on counting the deaths of care home residents barely hints at state policy (in which NICE and the BMA are implicated), to refuse hospital admission to those deemed not worth treating.

Disabled people are preparing a legal challenge. The denial of critical care and the pressure to not resuscitate remind us that the Nazis exterminated disabled people as “useless eaters” and “a life unworthy of life”, while pensioners were starved to death.

The draconian Coronavirus Act suspends social care obligations; shockingly Labour did not vote against this. Denied the support of homecare visits, disabled women are restricting their drinks, leading to kidney problems and pneumonia.

Some women who cancelled visits for fear of infection, are still being charged. We fear that after the lockdown, people will be found dead in their homes from lack of food and care.

Disabled mothers, entitled to support with childcare, now face child removal with less legal representation or virtual contact.

We support a Care Income Now! so that caring for people – ourselves and others – becomes the priority; scrapping HS2 (£106billion) and Trident (£205billion) would help fund this and reverse priorities.

Contact WinVisible or on Twitter @WinVisibleWomen

WinVisible (women with visible and invisible disabilities)


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