COVID inquiry ‘has shut out’ grassroots disabled people’s organisations

Photo of a window visit to a relative in a care home.  A woman standing outdoors peers through a window which is obscured by reflections, to see an older woman in a room.  She is sitting in a chair facing the window and looks worried.

Photo thanks to Rights For Residents

Disability News Service reports on how disability organisations have been treated, who applied to take part in the COVID-19 UK inquiry. We are quoted:

WinVisible is another grassroots DPO that has expressed frustration at the inquiry’s decision.

Claire Glasman, co-ordinator at WinVisible, said it was unacceptable that the inquiry had shut out all DPOs from the first module, on the country’s state of preparedness, even though “emergency planning is the first stage, where our survival is at stake and where our survival was dismissed”, and that only the four national DPOs had been granted core status for the second module.

She said the 14 grassroots DPOs had joined together “as a way of holding the government, former health secretary Matt Hancock and others accountable for the thousands of deaths which could have been prevented”, and their experiences would now need to be represented by the four national DPOs and outside the inquiry.

She said: “Many thousands of people, disproportionately women and people of colour, died from Covid being seeded into care homes, when the government already knew about transmission.

“Many thousands more died from neglect under cover of Covid: at home and in care homes and hospitals.”

WinVisible member Micheleine Kane, from Scotland, said: “As a bereaved daughter whose disabled mother with multiple sclerosis was left to starve in a care home and was frightened into not going to hospital, I am one of many let down and robbed of our family members due to the measures enforced by UK and devolved governments.

“I wanted my mother to come and live with me, but the care home said no, she couldn’t leave because of lockdown. I was only allowed window visits.

“As a result, my mother died a slow, painful, inhumane, lonely death at their hands.”

Glasman said DPOs including WinVisible had helped to widen the terms of the inquiry to include the disproportionate impact of Covid measures on disabled people, women, people of colour and others covered by equality law.

She said they would carry on pressing for the government to be held to account in the inquiry for deprioritising social care, and for the discriminatory treatment decisions made within the NHS using critical care guidelines and the issuing of “do not attempt resuscitation” notices without the consent of disabled patients or their families.

She said: “We are with the bereaved families who fear the inquiry will be another cover-up, after they were barred from testifying directly to it and were relegated to a ‘Listening Project’.”

Read full article here.

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