We were shocked and upset by yesterday’s announcement from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) that the death rate of people with learning disabilities and/or autism has increased by 134%, from this time last year.

More than half of the 386 recorded deaths (from the period 10 April – 15 May) were as a result of suspected and/or confirmed COVID-19. The data has also shown that the impact on people with learning disabilities and/or autism is being felt at a younger age range than in the wider population.

People with learning disabilities already face health inequalities and have a shorter life expectancy than those without a learning disability.

The latest figures relating to COVID-19 deaths show that people with learning disabilities are extremely vulnerable and require better healthcare and more awareness of their needs, to prevent premature deaths. Given that people with a learning disability are at increased risk of respiratory illness and that they are being affected at a younger age than the wider population, we want to see the government prioritise testing for people with learning disabilities.

We remain committed to raising awareness of health inequalities and to taking action to eliminate premature deaths amongst people with learning disabilities. We are working with healthcare providers in Sheffield to increase awareness and uptake of Annual Health Checks; to inform our members about health conditions including cancer and diabetes; and we are dedicated to promoting and helping to adopt healthy lifestyle choices including diet and exercise.