Last week, Enham Trust CEO, Heath Gunn took to social media to put out a heartfelt plea to help raise the profile of everyone who has a disability to get quicker access to the potentially lifesaving COVID-19 vaccination. Since Health’s letter to MP Kit Malthouse, Enham Trust have secured vaccinations within a week for all their frontline care setting workers and residents in care.
Heath Gunn took to social media to express his outrage after, whilst being supported in their efforts by the Charlton Hill GP Surgery, the Trust were informed they were still a non-guaranteed 2-3 weeks away from potentially being invited to have residents vaccinated as the local CCG placed them in priority group 4, meaning that people who have a disability are not priority to the elderly.
“Enham Trust is a disability charity based in Hampshire supporting 6,000 disabled people each year to live, work and enjoy life. During its near 100-year history the Trust has supported over 250,000 disabled people. Our services focus on care, housing and employment – promoting independence, choice and achievement. The charity was established in 1921 in the village of Enham Alamein in North Hampshire, originally to rehabilitate servicemen disabled in the First World War.
“Enham Trust supports 50 disabled people across its 3 care homes and over 100 in the local community and provides services to more than 6,000 nationally. These are proven the most vulnerable people in society, six times more likely to die from coronavirus than the general population* and surely should have been among the first to be offered the vaccine, which hasn’t been the case.”
John Pring, from the Disability News Service spoke to disabled activist, David Gillon, said: “We know from the government’s own statistics that disabled people have borne the overwhelming brunt of COVID deaths.
“It’s utterly bizarre that the government’s vaccine task force is not proposing a prioritisation scheme based on clinical need and vulnerability, but as things stand a marathon-running 65-year-old is a higher priority for vaccination than an immuno-suppressed and ventilator-dependent 20-year-old.
“While prioritising care home residents and staff over everyone else is obviously defensible given the devastating death tolls many suffered during the first wave, the proposal to limit this to elderly residents, but not disabled younger residents confined to care homes due to the deficiencies in adult care, simply does not make sense, either medically or logistically.
Heath Gunn echoed this thought when he spoke out on the public forum saying “It seems to me the balance between who is getting the vaccination and when is all wrong. If you are measuring people’s vulnerability, then age isn’t the only determining factor. If you measure vulnerability, then surely physical and underlying health conditions has to weigh alongside people in advanced years.”
Heath went on to say “It strikes me as crazy that I have to be writing to my local MP. This virus is spreading like wildfire amongst people with disabilities” This comes after Enham Trust, who Health Gunn describes as “working flat out as everyone has for 10 months, to successfully to keep the virus at bay” Has had its first confirmed cases in the last few days, which has had a huge impact on the staff, residents and their families with the worry that it may come with ‘lethal consequences’.
Since the plea, support poured in from the local community and local MP Kit Malthouse raised his concerns with the Health Secretary, this has lead to the Trust now having plans in place to get residents and staff vaccinated in the most secure way. Local mother Jane Hayward stated ‘People power and awareness helps’
Enham Trust CEO Heath Gunn said, “I am warmed by, and thankful for the support following my video post on social media and pleased to confirm we have now been allocated times for vaccines earlier than we had feared.
2021 marks the centenary of Enham Trust supporting disabled people to live, work and enjoy life. To find out more about what’s happening, join their 100 challenge or make a donation, head to the website.