IN 2015 a landmark case was brought before High Court. The court ruled that a 28-year-old disabled man’s rights had been violated when doctors at the hospital he was admitted to failed to involve his mother when a DNR order was placed on his medical records. The court made it clear it was not a decision for doctors to make alone. This was not the first case to be heard in the UK on the same subject. A quick peruse of Google will bring up hundreds of cases going back twenty plus years.
DNRs are Do not Resuscitate orders placed on seriously ill patients to prevent patients being resuscitated by doctors. They are only meant to be used by doctors in end of life scenarios after consulting with family or next of kin.
Fast forward to March 2020. Covid hits. A report by the British Institute of Human Rights showed that DNRs were applied at a higher rate for disabled/OAPs in the early part of the pandemic amid fears cases would overwhelm the NHS. Only one in four cases saw a formal assessment taken with the patient. Half of NHS workers confirmed discrimination sometimes happens with DNRs. 30% of people with a DNR in place weren’t aware of it.
When a shortage of ventilators was announced , the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) issued guidance to medical professionals stating that decisions on access to critical care should be based on age and the critical frailty scale. Those with Covid who scored ‘5’, which means mildly frail, and needed mild support would still be steered towards end of life care. Why? The same report suggested neuro-divergent patients with higher support needs be placed higher on the scale and be denied critical care. NICE was set up by government in 1999 to decide which drugs and treatments were available on NHS.
The fact that local authorities were also given the power to suspend their duties under the care act added to a potent mix of disabled being denied basic human rights. The right to live and access to health care, especially critical.
Disabled and OAPs portrayed as less valuable
People with learning disabilities aged 18 to 34 are 30 times more likely to die of Covid than others the same age, according to Public Health England. If you read the linked article you’ll notice Tory MP Helen Whatley, Minister of State for Social Care excuse the deaths, stating; “A third of those with learning disabilities who sadly died were living in residential care. There is now regular testing of staff and residents in care homes, and testing has also been rolled out to supported living settings in high risk areas.” It’s the line ‘There is now regular testing’. Because as we all now know, OAPs in care homes and disabled living in residential homes were discharged from hospital untested back into care homes.
Then there’s the media which facilitates the narrative that disabled/OAPs are second class citizens and therefore disposable. Headline after headline, interview after interview, citing 60% of those who died from Covid had ‘underlying conditions’ or ‘pre-existing conditions’. As though it was acceptable and portrayed us as less valuable.
We are not safe
We disabled are not safe in the community, at work, or even in hospital. The pandemic has shown us that disabled people are an afterthought. 11 years of cuts to our benefits and services has shown we’re considered not worthy because we are seen as unproductive to society and a drain on the public purse. So when people ask me why I’m still shielding, I just cannot even be bothered to respond.
If you needed proof that the government is trying to kill disabled people then their actions during Covid actually confirms it.
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