Press Release: Disability Wales & Disability Rights UK cite “mass death and real suffering” of Disabled people in Wales at UK Covid-19 Inquiry 

Disability Wales logo which has the organisation name in English and Welsh in plain text on a white background. The words are framed on the left hand side by four spirals in DW's trademark blue and orange colours.

Disabled People’s Organisations (DPOs) Disability Wales and Disability Rights UK have today addressed the Covid-19 Inquiry in Cardiff on the “mass death and real suffering” experienced by Disabled people in Wales during the pandemic and said that despite the Welsh Government’s awareness of the risks, it failed to properly plan for the crisis resulting in: “lack of access to food and essential resources, collapse of health, care and independent living services, and the suspension of Disabled people’s rights.”

In their opening statement for module 2B of the Inquiry, focussing on Welsh government decision making, the DPOs identified that 68% of those who died of Covid-19 in Wales were Disabled people, an even higher ratio than the 59% of deaths across the UK as a whole. They also cited government statistics which showed that Learning Disabled people, when age is taken out of the equation, were still between 3 and 8 times more likely to die of Covid in Wales than non-Disabled people. 

The DPOs questioned Welsh government decisions delaying the imposition of testing in care homes which happened later in Wales than in other UK nations and that, shockingly, even the Care Inspectorate for Wales confesses in its Inquiry evidence that it cannot guarantee that all deaths in care homes have been notified to them. 

While acknowledging that the Welsh government was unique in commissioning the DPO led Locked Out report, and that the quality of its engagement with Disabled people was “fundamentally different” from the poor situation in Westminster, the DPOs criticised the decision to acquiesce in the passing of Part 2, Sch. 12 of the Coronavirus Act 2020.

They highlighted a letter sent by Jane Hutt, Deputy Minister and Chief Whip to Julie Morgan, Deputy Minister for Health and Social Services in November 2020, in which she lamented: “we passed an Act which singles out disabled peoples’ most basic rights as something that can be switched off when expedient to do so.” 

The DPOs highlighted the fact that Disabled people across Wales were either inappropriately asked to consent to Do Not Resuscitate notices so that health resources could be targeted on those considered “young and fit” as identified in a BBC report in April 2020, or had these notices imposed without consent. 

Finally, the DPOs called for a dedicated Minister for Disabled People in Wales, compliance with the United Nations Convention on the Rights of Disabled People and emphasised the urgent need for economic redistribution to Disabled people. 

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said:

“The Covid-19 Inquiry Public Hearings in Wales are enabling us to highlight the stark reality of life for disabled people during the pandemic: the isolation, loneliness, and confusion as well as the loss of power, voice and citizenship. 

There was nothing inevitable about the 68% of deaths from COVID-19 among disabled people in Wales. As the Locked-Out Report revealed, it was social factors that contributed to this grim statistic, including discrimination, poor housing, poverty, employment status, and institutionalisation together with lack of PPE, poor and patchy services, inaccessible and confusing public information.

We want answers as to why the lives of disabled people appeared so expendable and moreover to ensure that never again do we face ‘the mass death and real suffering” experienced by so many during the pandemic. 


Disability Wales (DW) is the national association of disabled people’s organisations striving for the rights and equality of all disabled people.

Disability Rights UK is the UK’s leading organisation led by, run by and working for disabled people.

The report Locked-Out: Liberating disabled people’s lives and rights in Wales beyond Covid-19 (2021) was written by Professor Debbie Foster in coproduction with a Steering Group of the Welsh Government’s Disability Equality Forum, consisting of representatives of Disabled People’s Organisations and individual disabled people. The group was chaired by DW’s Chief Executive Rhian Davies: Locked out: liberating disabled people’s lives and rights in Wales beyond COVID-19 [HTML] | GOV.WALES

The BBC article on the use of do not attempt to resuscitate (DNAR) notices is here: 

DW and DR UK are represented by a team at Bhatt Murphy led by Shamik Dutta and Charlotte Haworth-Hird and counsel Danny Friedman KC, Anita Davies and Danielle Manson at Matrix Chambers.

The Covid-19 Inquiry Module 2b will investigate and make recommendations about the Welsh Government’s core political and administrative decision making relating to the Covid-19 pandemic.

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