VODG responds to publication of CQC figures showing increase in deaths of people with learning disabilities and/or autism

The Care Quality Commission today released figures that show there was a 175% increase in unexpected deaths during the period 10 April – 8 May this year in places where people with learning disabilities and/or autism may live – 3,765 deaths compared to 1,370 in the same period last year.

In response to these figures, Dr Rhidian Hughes, chief executive of the Voluntary Organisations Disability Group (VODG), said:

“People with learning disabilities and/or autism already face significant health inequalities. We are two months into the pandemic response and that it has taken this long for CQC data to come to light showing the potential impact of COVID-19 on people with a learning disability is appalling. This highlights structural inequities at work.

 “VODG has been calling on the government and its agencies to release data on the deaths of people with a learning disability and autism. Today’s figures from CQC are a step forward but we are still miles away from having data that clearly sets out the true picture of how this pandemic is impacting upon disabled people.

“Added to this is the fact that the government has introduced automatic testing for care homes for over 65-year olds, yet someone with a learning disability and/or autism living in a care home environment is not able to access testing – it’s simply unacceptable.

 Government and its agencies must shift its response significantly. It needs to be more inclusive of all groups using social care services, including people with a learning disability. We cannot continue to have a situation whereby disability services are continually neglected from government’s policy responses.

“Every death must count and we continue to call for the open and transparent release of data on the deaths of people with a learning disability from COVID-19. We must measure all lives lost. It’s only through the consistent routine reporting and publication of data that the necessary intelligence to help inform current and future service responses can be achieved.”