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South Scotland MSP, Joan McAlpine has welcomed a response from the Health Minster, Jeane Freeman MSP, in answer to her parliamentary question about increased COVID-19 death rates of people with learning disabilities.

Ms McAlpine had put her question to Ms Freeman during Scottish Learning disability week recently following a report in England which suggested that people with learning disabilities there have a higher death rate from COVID-19 than those in care homes.

Ms McAlpine has welcomed the minister’s response which outlines ways in which the Scottish Government is collecting and analysing relevant data. She says it will give reassurance to constituents who had been in touch, worried that their family members could be at a greater risk.

Commenting, Ms McAlpine said,

“I was deeply concerned about reports from the National Learning Disabled Mortality Review in England suggesting that people with learning disabilities there have an increased risk of death from COVID-19.

“So I asked the Health Minister if Scotland has comparable figures for this and whether their carers will be able to access routine testing in the same way as those in care homes. I also sought reassurances that the Scottish Government would give proper consideration to this vulnerable group as we move forward with the Test and Protect programme.

“Ms Freeman has now written back to me saying the Scottish Government is working with the National Records of Scotland and the Scottish Learning Disability Observatory to find ways to collect data on COVID-19 related deaths of people with learning disabilities and autism. She also confirmed that they are working to cross reference excess deaths with Census data which will tell them how many more people with learning disabilities are dying now compared to previous years.

“This will hopefully reassure constituents who have been in touch with their concerns. One parent, Lucie Dudgeon from Lockerbie, has told me that she’s very pleased to hear that the Scottish Government is giving due consideration to this vulnerable group and that they’re working to find the correct statistics correlating to COVID-19 mortality rates.

“Lucie has told me that as a parent to disabled children herself and being part of that community she knows how forgotten and isolated they often feel. But she’s reassured that those in positions of power are using their influence to make positive changes to ensure nobody is left behind or forgotten.”

Image of Lucie Dudgeon attached