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AROUND one in five disabled people fear that their lives will never return to normal after the pandemic, a survey released today said.
The report by the Office for National Statistics (ONS) adds to growing evidence that the pandemic has disproportionately affected people with disabilities, prompting renewed calls from charities that the Covid-19 inquiry must not be delayed.
It found that 18 per cent of respondents with a disability said they did not think life would return to normal, compared to 11 per cent of participants without a disability.
A higher number of disabled people also reported facing more problems accessing healthcare and treatment for non-coronavirus-related issues and for their wellbeing.
The survey was based on the responses of 4,700 people aged 16 and over in Britain over a three-week period across December and January.
On the mental health impact, the survey found that twice as many disabled people — 40 per cent — reported feeling lonely often, always or some of the time compared with non-disabled people, at 18 per cent.
Seventy-nine per cent reported feeling stressed or anxious while 50 per cent said they felt that their mental health had worsened.
Disability charity Sense’s chief executive Richard Kramer said the data proves the “terrible consequences” of the lack of support, information and consideration for people with disabilities throughout the pandemic.
The charity said that the figures strengthen the case for ensuring disabled people are included in the Covid-19 inquiry and for the probe to start in spring as planned.
There was speculation earlier this week that the official probe into the government’s handling of the pandemic could be delayed.
“The decisions and policies that have led to such a disastrous outcome for disabled people and other groups must be investigated properly, and soon,” Mr Kramer added.
“We cannot allow disabled people and their families to be left behind again.”
Dr John Puntis, co-chair of Keep Our NHS Public, which founded the People’s Covid Inquiry, criticised the government’s decision to hold the inquiry after the pandemic.
“Meanwhile the death toll increased to 175,000, giving the lie to [PM Boris] Johnson’s claim that he looked after people and got all the big calls right.
“Disabled people have been disproportionately affected and are right to call for both an end to further delay and a commitment that their voices will be heard and taken into account.”
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