Dan Scorer, Head of Policy at the learning disability charity Mencap, said: 

“People with a learning disability deserve to be given a chance to survive this pandemic.  Today Matt Hancock simply must include everyone with a learning disability in priority group 6, if they do not already fall into a higher category.

"The current guidance leaves individual doctors, already under considerable strain,  to make a judgement about the severity of someone's learning disability before allowing them to receive a jab. People with a learning disability have been failed by this sort of subjective decision-making in the past - we saw them being issued Do Not Resuscitate Notices last year and have witnessed inequalities in their access to healthcare throughout this pandemic.

"Many people with a learning disability will be excluded from having this potentially life-saving vaccine, despite them dying at more than six times the rate of the rest of the population. We are talking about people who are so often excluded in different areas of life, facing the challenges of lockdown and cuts to their support. We cannot sit back and watch them be left off the vaccine priority list.”

-ENDS-

For further information or to arrange an interview with a Mencap spokesperson or case study, please contact Mencap’s media team on: media@mencap.org.uk or 020 7696 5414 (including out of hours).  

Notes to editors:   

About Mencap     

There are approximately 1.5 million people with a learning disability in the UK. Mencap works to support people with a learning disability, their families and carers by fighting to change laws, improve services and access to education, employment and leisure facilities. Mencap supports thousands of people with a learning disability to live their lives the way they want: www.mencap.org.uk.    

For advice and information about learning disability and Mencap services in your area, contact Mencap’s Freephone Learning Disability Helpline on 0808 808 1111 (10am-3pm, Monday-Friday) or email help@mencap.org.uk.         

What is a learning disability?    

  • A learning disability is a reduced intellectual ability which can cause problems with everyday tasks – for example shopping and cooking, or travelling to new places – which affects someone for their whole life;    
  • Learning disability is NOT a mental illness or a learning difficulty, such as dyslexia. Very often the term ‘learning difficulty’ is wrongly used interchangeably with ‘learning disability’;     
  • People with a learning disability can take longer to learn new things and may need support to develop new skills, understand difficult information and engage with other people. The level of support someone needs is different with every individual. For example, someone with a severe learning disability might need much more support with daily tasks than someone with a mild learning disability.