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Coronavirus, disability and access to services

23 June 2020

The Women and Equalities Committee aims to find out more about the disproportionate impact of coronavirus on disabled people and on their access to services.


Wednesday 24 June - remote participation by witnesses and Members of the Committee

At 2.30pm

  • Ayla Ozmen, Head of Research and Policy, Action on Hearing Loss
  • Sarah Hughes, Chief Executive, Centre for Mental Health
  • Fazilet Hadi, interim Policy Manager, Disability Rights UK
  • Edel Harris, Chief Executive, Mencap

The opening session in the new sub inquiry will cover: Government communications and consultation; access to food; mental health; health care; social care and education. For each of these areas, the Committee is keen to hear third sector organisations' recommendations for improvement.

Government communications and consultation

Have the Government's communications and consultation with disabled people been clear, accessible and sufficient? How has the Government responded to disabled people's concerns? What could be improved?


There have been problems reported with access to food. What's the current situation? How has the Government responded to disabled people's concerns? What could be improved?

Mental health

Social distancing and isolation: what are the mental health implications for disabled people? How good is service provision for people with pre-existing mental health conditions?  Are the monitoring and review mechanisms re emergency changes to mental health legislation adequate?


Updates on the response to concerns that initial guidance, from NICE and the BMA, about difficult decisions when deciding who should receive intensive treatment for Covid-19 were potentially discriminatory against disabled people; the effects of lack of access to other healthcare services.

Social care

Impacts of emergency changes to social care legislation; care for disabled people in residential settings, including the use of ‘do not attempt resuscitation' notices.


Impacts of school, college and university closures on disabled children and young people and identify recommendations to mitigate detrimental effects

Chair's comments

Committee Chair Caroline Nokes said:

"Coronavirus, social distancing, self-isolation and other emergency measures have already had a severe effect on disabled people. Access to essential public services is a huge problem, for example for people with complex disabilities and communication support needs. There have even been reports of problems with access to food.

We want to understand the lived experience of disabled people so that we can make robust proposals to Government. Restrictions that severely affect people's daily lives must be fully justified and clearly communicated, and hard-won rights must be protected."

The inquiries

This is one of  three new sub-inquiries: coronavirus and BAME people; the gendered economic impact, and disability and access to services.

Back in March, the Committee called for evidence of the impact of coronavirus and the Government's response on different groups in society. It has received over 500 submissions, and it is already clear that these are three areas where the committee can potentially have the most timely and effective  impact on Government plans and policy.

The inquiries will draw on evidence which the committee has already received so evidence already submitted to the Unequal Impact inquiry launched in March will be used for these sub-inquiries.

Further evidence can be submitted by 13 July

Further information

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