Press statement: Disability Wales to highlight devastating impact of pandemic on disabled people at the Covid-19 Inquiry Public Hearings in Wales

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.

As a core participant, Disability Wales will be at the Covid-19 Wales Public Hearings (Module 2b), commencing on 27th February in Cardiff. DW will be representing the interests and concerns of Disabled People’s Organisations regarding the devastating impact of Covid-19 on disabled people in Wales.

Disabled people comprise 22% of the population in Wales with nearly 40% living in poverty, the highest rate in the UK, and are more likely to live in rented and overcrowded housing. Moreover, ten years of austerity prior to the pandemic had decimated public services on which many disabled people rely.

From the outset, DW raised concerns with Welsh Government about how the pandemic would impact disabled people in Wales, given the stark inequalities already in existence. As lockdown measures took effect, our fears were realised with many disabled people reporting breaches in their human rights including:

  • Loss of social care support and rights to assessment
  • Lack of access to food and other essentials 
  • Fear and anxiety about blanket application of ‘Do not attempt resuscitation’ notices 
  • Restricted access to healthcare and support with long-term conditions

Most shocking of all was the very high deathrate from Covid-19 among disabled people in Wales comprising almost 7 out of 10 deaths, compared to almost 6 out of 10 across the UK.

These breaches and other issues were catalogued in the report, published by Welsh Government that DW helped co-produce Locked-Out: Liberating disabled people’s lives and rights in Wales beyond Covid-19 (2021). In response to its findings and recommendations, the First Minister established a Disability Rights Taskforce to develop an Action Plan aimed at tackling the entrenched inequality faced by disabled people.

Rhian Davies, Chief Executive of Disability Wales said:

“The Covid-19 Inquiry Public Hearings in Wales provides a significant opportunity 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.

For disabled people in Wales, the Hearings are critical to calling those with power and responsibility to account and ensuring that vital lessons are learned for the future.”


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

DW is 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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