Coronavirus: Pandemic sees spike in learning disabled deaths
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Jun. 02, 2020
Deaths of people with learning disabilities in England have increased by 134% during the coronavirus pandemic, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) has said.
Between 10 April and 15 May there were 386 deaths, half of them confirmed or suspected Covid-19 cases.
The CQC said that during the same period in 2019, there were 165 deaths.
In a statement, the government said it was looking at how to "protect those most at risk".
The "targeted" analysis by the CQC looked at deaths of people with a learning disability and/or autism that it was notified of via care providers, and also those where a learning disability was indicated on the death notification form.
It found there had been a 134% increase in deaths, with 53% related to coronavirus.
Image copyright The Brown family Image caption Adam Brown died in hospital in April at the age of 30
Figures from the Office for National Statistics for the same time period show Covid-related deaths within the general population in England at 34%.
Adam Brown, 30, died on 29 April in East Surrey Hospital after contracting coronavirus.
He had learning disabilities and lived in supported living.
When he became ill he had a very high temperature but was not tested until he was admitted to hospital where he later died.
His sister Ruth said: "He must have felt confused and abandoned. He was having to see new faces, people in gowns and masks, that he doesn't even know."
His other sister, Naomi, added: "All we wanted to do was see his face or just to hold his hand or to be with him in his last moments.
"We need awareness for these people, those that don't have voices."
Kate Terroni of the CQC said: "We already know that people with a learning disability are at an increased risk of respiratory illnesses, meaning that access to testing could be key to reducing infection and saving lives."
Tests are currently prioritised for homes that specialise in caring for older people and those living with dementia, but not those with learning disabilities or autism.
In a statement, the Department of Health said: "We are working to improve our understanding of how different groups may be affected by the virus, including those with learning disabilities or autism, to ensure we can provide the best support and protect those most at risk."
The CQC said its figures did come with "limitations", such as it not being mandatory for providers to inform them the deceased had a learning disability, and added that if both the NHS and care provider reported the same death, duplicates would arise.