Category Archives: Disability

This casual disablist abuse is what the Tory electorate voted for

This didn’t happen: But you can bet the Tories would have wanted it.

Ever since the Tories sneaked themselves back into office in 2010, they have been tacitly encouraging us all to think of disabled people as scroungers, skivers, liars and a burden on society.

Consequently, disablist abuse has increased year-on-year since then, despite being mentioned many times by the national news media (who, although Tory-controlled, find it easy to divorce the symptom of this disease from its cause).

Here, the incident was relatively low-key – an able-bodied woman behind behind a disabled woman who walks with a stick complaining that she had a place to be and the disabled woman was walking too slowly.

On being informed that the woman she was criticising was disabled and could not walk any faster, this … lady… approached her again and said she had no business being out of her house and should stay at home.

It’s still a disablist hate crime.

It demonstrates the way we are being taught to think disabled people should be hidden away, out of sight, where prejudiced Tory “benefit” policies can quietly kill them off – as has happened to hundreds of people whose stories have been highlighted in the news, and probably tens or hundreds of thousands of others who haven’t.

In Scotland, the SNP is phasing in a new disability benefit that aims to treat claimants with dignity and sympathy.

But in England, it seems clear that the 40 per cent who vote Tory and thereby hold the rest of us hostage are determined to put the boot in.

Source: Disabled woman verbally abused by shopper in Middlebrook Retail Park carpark | The Bolton News

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Hated disability ‘benefit’ to be replaced in Scotland – with no dreaded face-to-face assessments

Meanwhile, in England and Wales: it’s not quite this bad but the death toll suggests it might as well be.

It’s easy to understand why the Scottish National Party is so popular north of the border – it actually fulfils its promises.

For example: it is replacing the hated Tory Personal Independence Payment for people living with disabilities.

The new Adult Disability Payment will be phased in next year, providing financial support to cover the extra costs faced by people with disabilities.

The SNP-run Scottish government has announced that the benefit will take a new approach, to ensure dignity, fairness and respect.

According to the Daily Record:

Social Security Scotland will make decisions about entitlement for ADP using the applicant’s account of their circumstances and existing supporting information, where possible.

The number of face-to-face assessments will be significantly reduced and will only be necessary when it is the only practicable way to make a decision.

Most consultations will be carried out over the phone, but can be face-to-face in a GP surgery or even at home – whatever works best for the person applying.

And claimants will no longer be asked to carry out tasks to demonstrate how their disability, long-term illness or mental health condition affects them as part of the application process.

This promises to be a huge improvement. Also helpful will be the provision of supporting material which may include a social care needs assessment, a report from a Community Psychiatric Nurse, and information from a carer.

As a carer myself, This Writer would have loved to be able to submit information to support Mrs Mike’s PIP (and ESA) claims.

But anything can seem good before it has actually been tested.

I would like to hear from claimants of the new benefit, once it starts coming in. Let’s hope they say good things about it.

Source: PIP to be replaced by new disability payment which includes no face-to-face assessments – Daily Record

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Every new MP receives briefing on how Tory social security reforms have harmed us – so they can’t say they don’t know

Long-term readers of This Site will remember Mo Stewart, the researcher into the harm being caused to claimants of sickness and disability benefits by successive Conservative governments’ determination to convert the social security system to a for-profit insurance scheme.

Mo spent 10 years researching and writing a book on this subject: Cash Not Care – The Planned Demolition of the UK Welfare State.

After the 2019 general election, she became concerned that the huge new influx of Conservative MPs – along with those from other political parties – were ignorant of the harm that government policies had caused.

So she wrote a briefing paper specifically addressing the issue and sent it to all of them.

Labour’s John McDonnell has apparently offered to arrange a debate on the subject, if possible.

Whether or not that happens, Mo has provided me with a copy of the document so we all have a record of what these MPs should know – and so they won’t be able to plead ignorance.

And here it is:

Social Policy Abused:
The Creation Of Preventable Harm

Executive Summary

The Preventable Harm Project (the Project) ran for ten years and closed in November 2019, with the evidence identified within the Project findings widely promoted during 2019/20. The Project identified the bipartisan political ambition to eventually remove the UK welfare state, to be replaced by private income replacement health insurance. In order to remove the welfare state, it was first necessary to remove the psychological security provided by the welfare state. This was achieved by the adoption of a flawed disability assessment model, and the manipulation of the general public aided by the tabloid press, that successfully demonised claimants of disability benefit(s). Large numbers of suicides linked to the adoption of the Work Capability Assessment are overlooked by the Department for Work and Pensions, and successive Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports, highlighting the link between the Work Capability Assessment and suicides, have also been disregarded. The Work Capability Assessment was fatally flawed by design and should be abolished, and the departmental intimidation of disability benefit claimants should be outlawed.

Introduction: The Creation of Preventable Harm

1. Introduced in 2008 to restrict access to the new Employment and Support Allowance long-term out-of-work disability benefit, the Work Capability Assessment (WCA) is a ‘non-medical functional assessment’ that disregards all clinical opinion. Since 2010, the WCA has been linked to the deaths of thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants who applied for state financial support when unable to work, yet were deemed to be ‘fit for work’ by the fatally flawed WCA.

2. Twelve years since the adoption of the WCA there is an identified and growing mental health crisis within the UK linked to claimants of disability benefit(s), and a disturbing increase in suicides directly linked to the WCA, as identified by published academic research but dismissed by the Department for Work and Pensions (DWP).

“The worst thing, I find, is realising that I am forced into looking for a life that I want but have no chance of having. I seriously feel I may kill myself because being sick, having next to no money, no life, no future, no cure, constant pain and constant disapproval defeats me.”

An extract from the ‘Fulfilling Potential? ESA and the fate of the Work-Related Activity Group’ project, conducted by Catherine Hale and published by MIND and the Centre for Welfare Reform.

3. In both 2006 and 2007 the government’s own expert medical panel warned the administration not to adopt the WCA, advising that it was ‘not fit for purpose’ due to the predictable negative impact on public mental health. The expert panel’s clinical opinion was disregarded by the DWP. The removal of clinical opinion from disability assessment using the WCA guaranteed that many of those in greatest need were destined to die, as the state removed the financial and the psychological security of a guaranteed income when unfit to work.

4. There have been two official Rule 43 ‘prevention of future deaths’ Coroners’ reports linking the WCA to suicides, with other Coroners expressing concern at inquests due to the identified enforced suffering of the deceased by the DWP. Coroners’ official Rule 43 reports and identified concerns are disregarded by the DWP, whose social policy reforms since 2010 created preventable harm to those in greatest need linked to intimidation. The constant threat of sanctions, which removes all disability benefit income, leaves the chronically ill and disabled community in need of state financial support living in fear of the DWP.

5. Regardless of the Jobcentre being advised that a claimant is unable to attend an interview due to ill health, disabled claimants are routinely met with an ‘institutional reluctance’ to meet their needs, as identified in Coroner’s reports. Jobcentre staff’s decisions to sanction a claimant can cause death by starvation, in C21st UK, when all income is removed for a period of weeks or months. No-one is held to account when some of those in greatest need are starved to death by the state.

6. The WCA is used to limit access to all state disability funding including the Employment and Support Allowance (ESA), Personal Independence Payment (PIP), Universal Credit and the War Pensions for older working-age disabled veterans, which is a military medical pension not an out-of-work benefit.

7. The WCA is regularly and inappropriately referred to as a ‘medical assessment’ by the DWP, MPs, academics, policy advisers and journalists. The WCA is not a medical assessment and is totally unrelated to clinical opinion. The adoption of the WCA is identified as being attributed to psychocoercion by successive administrations, to remove what once was the psychological security of the welfare state for anyone who is unfit to work.

8. Identified in 2008 by the American Association of Justice as being the second worst insurance company in America, the corporate insurance giant Unum (Provident) Insurance have been advisers to the UK government since 1992, and were appointed as the official UK government consultants for ‘welfare claims management’ from 1994. Concerned by the increase in various conditions that could not be confirmed by blood tests or x-rays, such as chronic fatigue syndrome, Unum Insurance adopted a biopsychosocial (BPS) model of disability assessment, which disregards all clinical opinion.

9. Unum advised the UK government as to how to adopt a similar BPS assessment model in the UK, and funded an assessment centre at Cardiff University for this purpose. The DWP adopted the discredited Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment for the WCA, which disregards diagnosis, prognosis, past medical history and prescribed medicines. The human consequences of using the WCA is that many of those in greatest need would die, with many driven to suicide with a common perception that anyone claiming to be unfit to work, and in need of state financial support, will be persecuted by the DWP. The Waddell-Aylward BPS model of assessment failed all academic scrutiny.

Policy recommendations

• Since 2009 every clinical authority in the UK have demanded that the WCA should be abolished. This includes the British Medical Association, the Royal College of General Practitioners, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Nurses and the British Psychological Society. Introduced by the private health insurance industry, disregarding clinical opinion was always dangerous. The WCA is fatally flawed and should be abolished without further delay, to be replaced with a disability assessment that considers clinical opinion, with many assessments being paper-based, so that the chronically ill and disabled community are no longer intimidated by the DWP.

Research findings
• In order to remove the past psychological security provided by the welfare state it was necessary to discredit vast numbers of disability benefit claimants, aided by the tabloid press, which helped to manipulate the British public.
• Social policies were adopted with a fiscal priority whilst disregarding health and wellbeing, which policymakers failed to take into account when recommending policies which were harmful.
• Since 2010 the social policy reforms, and the additional austerity measures, were destined to have a catastrophic and often fatal consequence for many of those in greatest need. Thousands of chronically ill and disabled benefit claimants have died when ‘killed by the state,’ with a 2014 NHS Digital Adult Psychiatry Morbidity Survey report that identified that almost 50 percent of ESA disability benefit claimants had attempted suicide at some point.
• Prosecuted disability hate crimes, including murder, increased by 213 percent between 2010-2016, during the coalition government’s term in office.
• The relationship between physical health and mental health is well documented. The numbers of benefit claimants who have perished due to social policies since 2010 will never be known.
• Published in September 2016 ‘Cash Not Care: the planned demolition of the UK welfare state’ provides the results of the first six years of independent disability studies research for the Preventable Harm Project. The book is now recommended reading for various social policy, health and legal courses at universities in the UK, Australia, Canada and New Zealand.

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Disabled benefit claimant sends in the bailiffs after suing Atos for negligence

More people need to do this.

A benefit claimant whose partner recorded her Personal Independence Payment assessment interview successfully sued Atos for negligence and failure of its duty of care after her payments were stopped.

She then sent in the bailiffs to enforce the country court’s ruling after the outsourcing giant refused to pay up.

The claimant, known as Rebecca, had to spend two years fighting to get her PIP reinstated after it was wrongly stopped on the basis of false information provided by the assessor.

Rebecca has epilepsy and a resulting heart condition, anxiety, depression and memory problems but her entitlement to the enhanced daily living component of PIP, along with her claim to the benefit itself, was removed by the Department for Work and Pensions on the basis of the assessment.

Eventually she was able to put her case before an appeal panel who listened to the recording of the assessment, compared it with the assessor’s account of the interview, and promptly restored her entitlement to PIP – and to the enhanced rate of the daily living component – until 2023.

Rebecca was so angry at the way she had been treated by Atos and the DWP that she decided to take the assessment firm to court, suing for “mental distress, anxiety and hardship”.

Atos did not bother to defend the claim, which resulted in an award of £2,500 for Rebecca, in compensation and damages.

Perhaps the firm simply thought it could shrug away her attempts to claim the money?

Not so. When Atos failed to pay, she sent the bailiffs in to its London offices, creating a further cost of £2,000.

This is a huge victory – not just financially but morally – for benefit claimants whose claims have been cancelled under false pretences, based on inaccurate assessment reports.

It happened because the assessment was recorded – something that the DWP has resisted for years. Now we know why: it stops that government department from wrongly knocking people off its books. This is a strong indication that every benefit claimant should record their interview.

Atos may wish to consider that the award against it was enlarged because of the length of time it took Rebecca to win her case.

I don’t have the full details but I’m willing to bet this was due to the “mandatory reassessment” malarkey imposed by the DWP, which means claimants have to wait – with no cash to live on – while officers of the department consider whether the decision to cut their benefit was right.

Usually they decide it was, and it is only then that claimants can appeal to a tribunal. Most appeals are won by the claimant.

This Writer would therefore urge anybody who has recorded their assessment, lost benefits, and had to appeal to get them back, to follow Rebecca’s example: don’t just take the money – take legal action!

Once Atos and the DWP have lost a few more cases, they might actually give up and agree that their system is unfair and has to change.

Source: Claimant Successfully Sues Atos And Sends In The Bailiffs When They Don’t Pay Up | Same Difference

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Treasury turned away disabled people’s pleas because UC ‘uplift is for WORKING people’

As empty as his head: Rishi Sunak’s Budget contained nothing for people with disabilities – possibly because the Treasury had turned away a final attempt to make him see evidence of the way he is persecuting them, only days before.

Tory Chancellor Rishi Sunak refused to accept pleas from people with disabilities to extend his Universal Credit uplift to legacy benefits.

His reason was made clear by Martin Lewis on The Andrew Marr Show on Sunday (March 7), when he said the Chancellor had told him, “this is targeted at working people, helping working people through the pandemic”.

The implication is clear: people with disabilities who don’t work simply don’t deserve any help to overcome the extra costs piled onto them by the Tory government’s response to Covid-19.

Members of campaign group DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts) had tried to apprise Sunak of the costs they face on March 1 – two days before his Budget speech – when they sent nearly 200 envelopes containing testimonies and concerns about the government’s failure to extend the uplift.

Also brought to the Treasury’s door was a wheelchair with items attached that represented essential items that people with disabilities were having to go without.

These included a blanket (heating); an incontinence pad (bathing, laundry and medicines); a face mask (PPE); an empty packet of cuppa soup (nutritious food) and an empty purse (enough money to live on).

All these things – the wheelchair with its attached items and the testimonies – were turned away. Neither Sunak nor anybody else at the Treasury could be bothered to pay attention to the plight of these people.

Similar deliveries were also rejected by 10 Downing Street and the Department for Work and Pensions, although the DWP did accept a letter addressed to Secretary of State for Work and Pensions, Thérèse Coffey, with a copy of a document published today by DPAC collating testimonies from benefit claimants and key findings from recent reports evidencing the need to retain and extend the uplift.

According to DPAC,

Given the disproportionate mortality rates for disabled people from COVID, many have been shielding for close to a full year now. This has driven their costs up considerably.

The Department for Work and Pensions has said there is no need to apply the uplift to legacy claimants because benefits will be increased by 37p per week in April 2021 and because they have the option of moving over to Universal Credit.

Neither of these options help address the situation.

The 37p increase is designed to reflect higher costs of living due to inflation, not the pandemic. It represents a mere 0.5% increase while state pensions will rise by 2.5%. It isn’t enough even to buy a single protective mask.

As the DWP knows, many disabled people are financially worse off on Universal Credit due to the removal of the Disability Premia which have been the subject of judicial review. They would lose out by a move to UC.

There is also the question of how disabled people without access to the internet or support to navigate the benefit system are supposed to move over to UC with the operations of welfare advice and community support organisations so heavily restricted by the pandemic.

Next time someone like Sunak or Boris Johnson turns up on your TV, telling you they are “protecting the most vulnerable”, remember that you know the truth:

This Johnson government is ignoring the most vulnerable people. Johnson doesn’t want to protect them and neither does Sunak. They want the most vulnerable people to die.

Source: Treasury blanks disabled people – letters to Chancellor telling of financial hardship turned away – DPAC

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Nothing for you if you’re sick, disabled, at school or in care: reaction to the Tory budget

They all do this: but the way Rishi Sunak held the red box indicated there wasn’t much in it. And there wasn’t.

Rishi Sunak’s budget has shown he is a diehard Tory, with concessions for businesses while those of us in need can go whistle.

He has claimed his hands are tied by huge Covid-19-related debts – but we all know that he has already paid them off, by the simple means of creating the money needed to do so.

And his big plans for the future were pathetic: new ‘free ports’ that have always been a bad idea, and an investment bank to replace the one a previous Tory government sold off a few years ago.

We are ruled by intellectual pygmies – and that is being harsh on the pygmies.

I watched the budget speech and commentated on it on Twitter, so I can provide a first-hand account of the announcements – but first, I’d like to go straight to what wasn’t announced, with comments from people who were reading at the time:

So the people who did all the hard work during the Covid-19 crisis will receive no reward for their sacrifices at all – even though many of them sacrificed their lives, contracting the virus and dying because Matt Hancock couldn’t be bothered to supply proper personal protective equipment (PPE) at the right time.

However:

People with disabilities who did not receive the £20 benefit uplift because they are on so-called “legacy” benefits will still receive nothing more, even though the uplift will remain in place until September. After then, it seems people who lost their jobs because of Covid-19 will fall over a so-called “cliff edge”, with the uplift cancelled, forcing them to live on much less.

The Tories have made a major issue of education in the crisis, demanding that our children must go back to school as soon as possible in order to catch up on what they have missed – but Rishi Sunak has provided no extra facilities for this in his budget. It seems it was all talk and – in fact – the plan is to reopen a major vector for transmission of Covid and hope that the increase in infections – and deaths – won’t be noticed amid the falling numbers triggered by the vaccination programme.

And after years of promising to fix problems in the social care system – that became hugely pronounced when 30,000 people died in care homes because of Tory stupidity – Sunak is breaking that promise by offering nothing.

Meanwhile, those who profited hugely from the pandemic – either by being perfectly situated to continue selling goods to people in lockdown or by receiving government Covid-related contracts to provide services at hugely-inflated costs (many of which were not actually provided because the contractors were not qualified to do so) are to get off scot-free because Sunak has backed away from calls to impose a wealth tax.

So, what has he done?

Well, he carped on a lot about borrowing a huge amount of money to pay for Covid-19. That was a stream of lies from start to finish, as I pointed out:

So we were led to expect tax hikes a-go-go. But this didn’t happen:

The refers to income tax, National Insurance and VAT. However – and this is indeed a ‘however’:

This is the amount you earn before you start paying tax, or before you start paying it at a higher rate. Because these thresholds are frozen, it seems more people will pay at a higher rate due to wage inflation, so there will be a de facto increase in taxes. But this depends on people receiving pay rises to cover their costs and Tory policy over the last 11 years has been to discourage that – it’s the reason real take-home pay has fallen by thousands of pounds per year since 2010.

This was the only increase in taxation, and it is only on a tax on profits. So firms that pay corporation tax can avoid it by ensuring that they make no profit from 2023. The best way to do that is to invest in infrastructure and wages (by employing more people, perhaps).

It would be wrong to say that Sunak’s budget does nothing for ordinary people – but it’s all based around existing Covid-related schemes:

Sunak went on to announce plans for government investment. The main points were:

But “free ports” are not new, nor are they likely to help:

Here’s an interesting point:

Mr McDonnell himself promptly answered it:

There was also some muttering about policies that give a nod to the environment but if you blinked, you missed them – and This Writer blinked. They certainly don’t constitute a “Green Industrial Revolution”!

As Tory budgets go, this is not the disaster for working-class people that it could have been – although the main hits have been offset, so it may be a few months or years until we can know the effects for sure.

The lack of any hard taxes or austerity measures suggests a tacit admission that Covid-19 really is bought and paid-for, and there won’t be any real need to pay for it again.

So This Writer is left with a huge sense of anticlimax. I was expecting to be fearful after today; instead I feel let down.

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Tory opinion poll asks ‘degrading’ question about disability – and it will help form national policy

As a man in a relationship with someone who has a disability, I can confirm that this is disgustingly inappropriate.

What do you think of this tweet by the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire?

Four those who can’t read images well, the question is: “Do you agree or disagree that you would be happy to have a physical relationship with a disabled person?”

The implication is that people with disabilities are sub-human and should not enjoy the same relationships as the rest of us – and that shows despicable prejudice by the Tory government.

As I say, my own partner has a disability so I know this subject very well.

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Sick & disabled people to be subjected to same harm as Universal Credit claimants from April

The Department for Work and Pensions is to run trials on a new “integrated” assessment service, putting sick and disabled benefit claimants under the same conditions as Universal Credit claimants.

What a disaster for people with long-term illnesses and disabilities.

Universal Credit is known to be harmful to its claimants. The five-week wait before anything is paid puts most people into debt and forces them to take out advance loans, meaning that the amount they receive – when they do get it – is much less than their government-assessed need, and continues to be so for many months.

This creates serious mental and emotional stress and otherwise fit and healthy UC claimants have done horrifying damage to their own health as a result.

People with illnesses and disabilities are already suffering damage to their own health. The current system already piles mental and emotional stress on them –

Only yesterday I wrote about “brown envelope anxiety”, that pushes sick and disabled people (especially) to avoid opening communications from the government, in the expectation that the message inside will inflict harm upon them.

– and putting them under Universal Credit conditions can only make matters worse.

I notice that the new trial is set to start in April, when the effects of Covid-19 are expected to be dying down.

Is it the Tory aim to immediately replace one fatal attack on sickness and disability with another?

Source: Justin Tomlinson confirms that the new DWP intergrated assessment service to be trialed in April. – The poor side of life

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The Tories promised to reform benefits long ago so why do 10 terminally ill people die every day, waiting for their first payment?

Christine McCluskey: when she died, after your Tory government cut her benefits, she weighed just three stone.

The life expectancy of people with terminal illnesses has plummeted because they are being denied end-of-life state benefits.

The system is supposed to support people who are expected to live less than six months – but doesn’t.

The Tories demand that doctors provide a note predicting when their patient is likely to die.

But many physicians have been reluctant to make such predictions, or feared their patients’ health could deteriorate more rapidly if they learned they were not expected to survive very long.

The Tory government of the day promised to change the system in 2019, saying it would bring in modifications that would make it easier for people with terminal illnesses to claim their due.

And nothing has happened.

DWP minister Justin Tomlinson has apologised for the delay – which is a fat lot of good for people who could starve to death before their health condition kills them.

He blamed the delay on the Covid-19 crisis – and warned that it is likely to run on for many more months yet.

Let’s just remember what this means:

The image at the top of this article depicts Christine McCluskey, who died in a humiliating way, weighing just three stone, after Tomlinson’s department wrongly ended her benefit claim.

The 61-year-old grandmother had suffered long-term health problems most of her adult life including Crohn’s disease – which left her with a colostomy bag – osteoporosis, arthritis, a stroke and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD).

This housebound lady had a feeding tube and a painful fistula that leaked through her abdominal wall, she was severely malnourished and was being investigated for a worrying cough at the time the Department for Work and Pensions assessed her for Personal Independence Payment.

The decision: her payments of £117.85 per week were removed and her mobility car was taken away from her.

Weeks later she was diagnosed with terminal cancer but her payments were not restored. She died four months after her benefits were stopped, weighing just three stone.

She was unable to receive fast-track access to PIP that is available for people with terminal illnesses who have less than six months to live, because she was unable to show when she was likely to die.

Recent estimates obtained by Labour MP Jessica Morden have revealed that 7,260 people died as they were waiting for a verdict on their claim for Personal Independence Payment (PIP), or 10 people per day.

Yes, these people were going to die soon anyway.

But the manner of their death tells us whether the United Kingdom under the Conservatives is a civilised country or primitive and barbaric.

And the UK under the Conservatives clearly falls into the latter category: primitive and barbaric.

Source: DWP shamed as 10 terminally ill people die every day waiting on a benefits decision | Welfare Journal

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People with learning disabilities in England are bumped up the Covid vaccine waiting list

This is because of the recent fuss over ‘do not revive’ orders that are still being applied to people with learning disabilities – for no reason other than to make sure they die if they catch Covid-19.

The idea, it seems, is to make people think the government is ensuring that all such people will be protected from Covid-19 as soon as possible.

But I don’t see any information that people with learning disabilities will no longer have DNR orders applied to them.

And of course while we’re now told the vaccine is 80 per cent effective after the first dose, that still means 50 per cent of people are likely to catch it.

And it is much harder to survive if there’s a doctor’s order hanging over you, saying you shouldn’t be put on a ventilator.

Source: All people on learning disabilities register in England to be invited for Covid vaccine | World news | The Guardian

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