A new report published today (25 February) by Improvement Cymru, part of Public Health Wales, suggests that people in Wales with learning disabilities, are more likely to die from Coronavirus than the rest of the population.
The report ‘COVID-19-related deaths in Wales amongst People with Learning Disabilities’ analysed existing data from 1 March to 19 November 2020.
The report finds that as people with learning disabilities are often subject to more health inequalities than the wider population they may be particularly vulnerable to Coronavirus. Comparison with Coronavirus deaths amongst all Welsh residents suggests that this figure is three to six times higher in those with learning disabilities, than the population as a whole.
This increase in Coronavirus deaths mirrors the persistently higher mortality from other non-Coronavirus causes, experienced by this group of people. Of approximately 15,600 people in Wales identified with a learning disability, at least 52 of these people died from Coronavirus between 1 March and 19 November 2020.
Dr Rachel Ann Jones, Learning Disabilities programme Lead at Improvement Cymru, said: “This report is an essential piece of on-going work to highlight the health inequalities we so often find with people with learning disabilities.
“The findings must be interpreted with some caution, given the issues with reliably identifying people with learning disabilities, but were in line with what we were expecting to see. Those identified are more likely to be people with relatively poor health, unrelated to their disability, as frequent inpatient admissions make someone more likely to appear in this data.
“This report is vitally important in maintaining the focus on improving the lives of people with a learning disability both now and in the future.”
Improvement Cymru is currently working as part of the core Public Health Wales response to Coronavirus and are the all-Wales Improvement service for NHS Wales that uses its expertise to develop, embed, and deliver system-wide improvements across health and social care.
Those with severe or profound learning disability are recommended to receive COVID-19 vaccine as part of priority group 6, currently being called in Wales, and also those with learning disability in long-stay nursing and residential care settings.
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