CEO calls for urgent policy change on vaccinations for people with learning disabilities

BY: Emma Russell


Westminster CEO calls for urgent policy change on vaccinations for people with learning disabilities.


A major London learning disability charity has issued an urgent call for people with learning disabilities to be prioritised in the Covid-19 vaccination schedule. Despite people with learning disabilities having died at a rate up to 6 times higher than the rest of the population during the pandemic according to the government’s own statistics (1), they have not been included in the groups prioritised for early vaccination in the roll-out of the programme.


Other vulnerable groups, such as the elderly and people living in care homes, have been given priority. The only people with learning disabilities who have been included in the vulnerable list are people with Down’s syndrome, who represent a very small proportion of all people with learning disabilities.


The CEO of the Westminster Society for People with Learning Disabilities, Gabby Machell, has written to social care minster Helen Whately, to express her grave concern over this omission. In her letter, she wrote


I find it extraordinary that this extremely vulnerable group have been viewed as unequal to other vulnerable people in relation to Covid-19 vaccinations and strategies

She added

The impact of Covid-19 on learning disabled people and their families has been devastating. This can be of no surprise as the many health inequalities faced by people with learning disabilities and their families have been constantly raised with government and with Public Health England.


Machell called on Whately to implement an urgent policy change so that all people with learning disabilities, regardless of age or where they live, should have access to regular testing and to vaccination alongside people living in elderly and nursing care facilities.


Link to full letter to Helen Whately:

Petition for change to vaccination priorities:

The Westminster Society is an award winning charity providing services for people with learning disabilities and their families in Westminster and other London boroughs.

The Society has extensive experience of working with families and both children and adults with a range disabilities, including people with complex needs and profound and multiple disability. The Society places special emphasis on the promotion of effective relationships with families and considers this crucial to successful delivery of services.


Contact details

Mandy Crowford, Director of Services, 020 8968 7376,

For more information on the work of The Westminster Society, please visit or follow their Facebook page or Twitter @wspld


(1) Public Health England Covid-19 deaths of people with learning disabilities


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