Health inequalities that people with disabilities faced before COVID-19 (and they faced many) were exacerbated by the pandemic. Of those who died from COVID-19 in the first year of the pandemic, 60% were people with a disability. People with learning disabilities were eight times more likely to die of COVID-19 than the general population (Office for National Statistics (ONS), 2021). This is a reflection of various inequalities that disabled people continue to face in British society (Kavanagh et al, 2022). COVID-19 leaves a legacy, it is essential that healthcare services address the poor mental health and social isolation of people with disability so that the inequalities occurring early in the pandemic do not become further entrenched.
Outcomes for disabled people are measured across areas of life that include education, employment, social participation, housing, wellbeing, loneliness and crime. The ONS (2022) recognises that disabled people are more likely to live in poverty, have less access to education and employment and experience poorer ratings of personal wellbeing compared with non-disabled people. Disabled people have been disproportionally affected by over a decade of austerity and extensive reforms to the welfare system, these have increased the risk of poverty and in turn impacted people’s health. In England the number of organisations supporting people with disabilities has declined significantly due to funding cuts and other challenges, reducing the ability to confront structural inequalities that disabled people face (Harrison and Lazard, 2021).
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