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Camden health groups warn: Remember people with complex needs and disabilities when fighting Covid-19

PUBLISHED: 16:43 13 November 2020 | UPDATED: 16:43 13 November 2020

Victor Max Smith has spoken about the difficulties lockdown had posed in terms of mental health and access to essential trans healthcare. Picture: Victor Max Smith

Victor Max Smith has spoken about the difficulties lockdown had posed in terms of mental health and access to essential trans healthcare. Picture: Victor Max Smith

Victor Max Smith

Healthwatch Camden and Camden Disability Action have released a report calling on local health authorities to make sure individuals with complex medical needs are at the heart of planning during the second Covid-19 wave.

The report, “Life In Lockdown” details the way in which a diverse group of case studies have dealt with the complications of Covid-19.

It finds that people with disabilities and other complex health needs have been disproportionately impacted by the situation.

Colin Brummage, chair of advocacy group Camden Disability Action, said: “We know that disabled people have been disproportionately impacted through the pandemic.

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“This report adds weight to this and further highlights the need for the health and social care sector to work more closely with disabled people and organisations run by disabled people, to ensure we are involved in, and leading on, both the second wave response and the recovery planning.”

Matthew Parris, Healthwatch Camden’s director said: “The findings of this report emphasise and illustrate the different ways in which the pandemic is affecting people. For example, people with disabilities are more likely to report concerns about being lonely and isolated, and there is clearly a heightened concern among Asian communities about catching the virus.”

“The extent and breadth of concerns reported by younger people is also a cause for concern and should be considered and explored further by those overseeing mental health services.”

Camden mature student Victor Max Smith, 35, told this newspaper about the difficulties lockdown had posed in terms of mental health and access to essential trans healthcare. He said he was living in a tiny room in student accommodation and “I could lie down and touch both sides”. Being confined to his room brought back many mental health fears, he said. “It was pretty bad in the first month or so, I spent an awful lot of time walking around London at night. In the end I was lucky to be involved in some activism, that helped.”

He said he had been hugely concerned about access hormone replacement therapy – as many pharmacies closed – but he was more confident that, as he has treatments only once every three months, this second lockdown would be easier.


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