April 2020

2021 Newsletters     
Summary of 2021 newsletters   
Summary of 2020 newsletters   
Summary of 2020 COVID Newsletters     
Archived Newsletters 
Current News 
Disability Rights UK (DRUK) – News In Brief   
To contact Disability Rights UK (DR UK) see www.disabilityrightsuk.org/contact-us

CORONAVIRUS (COVID-19): Information And Advice  
The government has published their Coronavirus action plan and the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, Matt Hancock has announced strengthened legal powers to protect public health.

The Health Protection (Coronavirus) Regulations 2020 have been put in place to reduce the risk of further human-to-human transmission by keeping individuals in isolation where public health professionals believe there is a reasonable risk an individual may have the virus.

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds  
  • always wash your hands when you get home or into work
  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available 
  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • put used tissues in the bin straight away and wash your hands afterwards
  • try to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Stay at home for 7 days if you have either:

  •  a high temperature – you feel hot to touch on your chest or back
  • a new, continuous cough – this means you've started coughing repeatedly

The NHS will contact you if you are at particularly high risk of getting seriously ill with coronavirus. You'll be given specific advice about what to do.

Do not contact your GP or healthcare team – wait to be contacted.

Use the 111 online coronavirus service for more information about the latest ‘Social Distancing and Contact’ enforcement and to find out what to do next. www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/


Disability Rights UK’s Communications Officer Anna Morell has written a powerful piece for in Metro about claiming the term ‘disabled’ and how implementing the Social Model of Disability helps everybody in society.

“My name is Anna, I am 45 years old, and have had disabling health conditions for about a quarter of my life. It has taken me the best part of a decade to call myself what I am: a disabled person.

Until about three years ago, I didn’t call myself disabled. I talked about my health being in decline, about feeling unwell, exhausted, being a bit pained or limpy, but I refused to use the D word. All the signs were right there in my body – but I didn’t claim it. Mainly because those around me refused to allow me the space to be disabled. I don’t look disabled. The physical signifiers of one of my disabilities are not widely recognised outside of those who suffer from the condition, and the others are hidden disabilities.

One boss asked what adaptations I would need, and when I told her, looked lost, and changed the subject (even though she herself had worked in the disability sector for many years). It was made clear to me that another colleague had a ‘far worse’ (read ‘more visible’) disability – this felt like it was issued as a warning to me to put up and shut up. I was too scared to admit what was staring me in the face. It felt as though society was too prejudiced against disabled people for me to own the D word – because it is prejudiced.

There are around 14million disabled people in the UK. One fifth are of working age. A third of people think disabled people are less productive than non-disabled people. We’re more than twice as likely to be unemployed as non-disabled people. We are half as likely again as non-disabled people to be living in poverty. Hate crime against us rose by 12 per cent last year – and that’s just the reported cases.

But we have something powerful on our side – The Social Model of Disability. This essentially says: it’s not the disabled person that needs to try to hide, lie or change to fit into society, it’s society that needs to amend its fabric to fit everyone.

The obvious and amazing aspect of that is this: if we think about how to change things to fit disabled people, they then fit all people. A prime example is a ramp – everyone can use a ramp but not everyone can use stairs. If people live to be a ripe old age, disability is inevitable.

Implementing The Social Model helps all of us. Thinking about it now, rather than later, brings about positive changes – for all of us. The Social Model is backed up by the law. People cannot legally discriminate against me because of my disabilities, either in terms of the services I use when out and about, or at places of work.

The Equality Act is on my side and says that businesses must make ‘reasonable adjustment’ – in essence, they have to enact The Social Model – to ensure I can do what I need to do. The Social Model can also apply to attitudes. Does a business need to fear the cost of adaptations it needs to make (many of which are government funded through the Access to Work scheme) or does it need to embrace a diverse workforce that includes disabled people who will give it a unique position in its field, with disabled people’s expertise and insight into a 14million person-strong untapped market?

I now have no qualms about calling myself disabled. As I have owned it, I have found my tribe – I have met hundreds of disabled people who have welcomed me with open arms, and they are as strong, wise, capable and kick-ass as anyone I know. We have to be, because we have to kick down the barriers that stop The Social Model from being implemented across society.  Read more: https://metro.co.uk/2020/02/18/used-afraid-admit-disabled-now-accept-12076788/?ito=cbshare      

SPECIAL BRIEFING FROM THE ADULT SOCIAL CARE TEAM - Coronavirus Special - Information correct as of 27 March 2020    
New web pages for coronavirus advice and support    
A new information section has been created on the Surrey County Council website https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus as a centralised place to host the most up-to-date information on coronavirus for Surrey residents and people working in the county.

You will find links to official and trusted information and advice from the Government and the NHS, as well as how to find, and offer, support in your community, access emergency funds, council service updates, business advice and details of a new Community Helpline https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus/community-support/need-help .

If you have a health condition that makes you especially vulnerable to coronavirus, the government is advising you to stay at home and take special steps to protect yourself. You can register for support  https://www.gov.uk/coronavirus-extremely-vulnerable if you or someone you care for is extremely vulnerable to coronavirus.

The pages also contain coronavirus scams advice https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus/community-support/stay-connected , as unfortunately people will take advantage of this unusual situation our society is facing.

For professionals, information providers and user-led organisations we would encourage you to share the information materials in the resource centre https://www.surreycc.gov.uk/people-and-community/emergency-planning-and-community-safety/coronavirus/coronavirus-toolkit to all your wider networks, across your organisations and using your communication channels.

The county council is working with all key agencies on communicating to residents, staff, businesses and the health and care workforce and ensuring people follow the national guidance to stay at home, protect the NHS and save lives. Our local effort is focused on reducing the spread of the virus, supporting the NHS and protecting vulnerable people in our community.

The information on these web pages is updated regularly to support Surrey residents and businesses.

Thousands of severely disabled people will benefit from new government funding, which is expected to more than double the number of Changing Places toilets in NHS hospitals across England including £35,000 being awarded to Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

Changing Places are toilets with additional equipment for people who are not able to use the toilet independently, including adult-sized changing benches and hoists.    

AbilityNet supports people of any age, living with any disability or impairment to use technology to achieve their goals at home, at work and in education.  IT Can Help volunteers provide IT support for disabled and older people in their own homes helping with most major computer systems, laptops, tablet devices and smartphones.    

For more information: https://abilitynet.org.uk/about-abilitynet   
Email: enquiries@abilitynet.org.uk Telephone: Free helpline 0800 269 545     

Pavements are meant for pedestrians and motor vehicles should not be parked on them as they can obstruct the passage for pedestrians, wheelchair users and mobility scooters, sometimes forcing them into the road. Police may issue a Fixed Penalty Notice if pedestrians / wheelchair users are prevented from moving freely.

Pavements are also designed and constructed to take the weight of pedestrians, mobility scooters and wheelchairs. The weight of a car or goods vehicle can cause damage. This is particularly evident in illegal vehicle crossovers where residents gain access to their property by driving over a pavement that hasn't been lowered and re-enforced.

Impact on disabled people    
Pavement parking can have a big impact on disabled people in Surrey. Surrey Coalition of Disabled People, Surrey Vision Action Group, and Guide Dogs are working closely with the county council to tackle this issue.

Where there are no waiting restrictions (i.e. yellow lines) on the road, enforcement can only be done by Surrey Police; we have no enforcement powers against pavement parking in uncontrolled roads. If there is a situation where pedestrians, pram or wheelchair users are being forced into a busy road as a result of inconsiderate parking, then it should be reported to Surrey Police, on the non-emergency phone number 101.

Councils can prevent parking on pavements by installing concrete or steel bollards. However, costs and the wish to reduce clutter means they will usually only be installed as part of another larger scheme or at sites of major concern.

Parking controls    
Yellow lines apply to the entire width of the public highway from the centre of the road to the boundary on the same side of the road. Therefore, parking on a pavement next to a road where a waiting restriction applies could result in a driver being issued a parking ticket even though their vehicle is not encroaching onto any waiting restriction road markings. Enforcement of parking restrictions is carried out by our districts and boroughs.    

The Department for Transport (DfT) is to consult on whether to give local authorities more power to tackle the issue of pavement parking.  It follows a Commons' Transport Select Committee report last year (2019) which called for a blanket nationwide ban on the "blight" of parking on pavements.  It is already illegal in London, apart from some specific areas marked by blue signs or white box markings on the road.

Motorists who flout the law in the capital face a mixture of criminal and civil sanctions including fines.  But rest in the country partially parking on the pavement is allowed, with the exception of lorries, as long as pedestrian access is not obstructed.

Transport Secretary Grant Shapps said: "Vehicles parked on the pavement can cause very real difficulties for many pedestrians. That's why I am taking action to make pavements safer and I will be launching a consultation to find a long-term solution for this complex issue. 

The select committee's 2019 report heard from witnesses who claimed that the worst cases of pavement parking were effectively trapping disabled, elderly and vulnerable people, making them "afraid to leave their homes".  It concluded that blocked-off walkways were also exacerbating the issue of loneliness in Britain.

The committee' chairman, Huw Merriman, welcomed the new announcement from the DfT, but noted that a similar consultation had taken place in 2015, yet little, if anything, had changed.

Jack Cousens, head of roads policy for the AA, also welcomed the new review, but warned against a total ban.  "We absolutely agree that people who park in an anti-social way should be penalised. A better solution would be for councils to make a street-by-street assessment and where pavement parking could be allowed it be clearly marked and signed."  https://news.sky.com/story/pavement-parking-government-considers-uk-ban-11955857

DR UK has made a written submission to The House of Lords Economic Affairs Committee inquiry into the economics of Universal Credit.  The Committee will examine whether Universal Credit is meeting its original objectives and whether the policy assumptions reflected in its design are appropriate for different groups of claimants. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/dr-uk-responds-house-lords-universal-credit-inquiry

The DWP is piloting a new system that it has developed which will deliver all assessments for all three benefits using a single digital platform.  Separate organisations currently run assessments for PIP and the Work Capability Assessments (WCAs) in ESA and Universal Credit, using different IT systems.

The new system, which will be launched in a region not yet confirmed – a Transformation Area - will mean that people in receipt of more than one benefit will not have to provide the same information multiple times. https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/dwp-pilot-single-service-deliver-all-disability-benefits-assessments

Sunflower-branded lanyards and sunflower-branded ticket wallets are now available from major London railway interchanges for the Southern and South Eastern railway networks.

DR UK’s Kamran Mallick said: “We welcome the move to provide training to ensure that station staff recognise that not all disabilities are visible.   It should be enough that a passenger requests assistance for them to receive assistance, with no further interrogation. It should not become a requisite that disabled people, whether their disabilities are visible or hidden, should have to present proof before receiving basic, human help. It should always be an individual's choice as to whether or not they display a sunflower symbol.”    https://www.disabilityrightsuk.org/news/2020/march/london-stations-embrace-sunflower-scheme 

A simple cheek swab could save babies from permanent and profound deafness in the world’s first emergency genetic bedside test, which is being trialled on the NHS.  The swab means that nurses can identify whether a premature baby would be genetically predisposed to being left deaf after treatment with gentamicin, a life-saving antibiotic used to treat 90,000 new-borns a year.

Guidelines say a baby should have gentamicin administered within an hour, though researchers have known for 25 years that the antibiotic could lead to deafness caused by a genetic variant which affects 1 in 500 people. Testing for it has traditionally taken days. But now, in just 20 minutes a nurse working alone can establish, whether their infant patient has the genetic variant which rules out using gentamicin – and if so to prescribe an alternative drug instead.

The test, which already has Health Research Authority, CE and ethical approval, started trials in January 2020 in neonatal intensive care units at St Mary’s Hospital, Manchester, part of Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, and Liverpool Women’s Hospital. Used across the NHS, it could save more than 180 babies a year from going deaf as a result of gentamicin.

Bill Newman, Professor of Translational Genomic Medicine at the University of Manchester and consultant at Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust, who is leading the trial, says that the technology could be used in future to identify how patients are affected by other drugs.

Mr Newman – whose team includes the developers of the testing equipment genedrive plc and parents of children treated in NICUs – said: “Successful implementation of the gentamicin test will be a first in the integration of a rapid decision-making, genetic-based diagnostic in the UK NHS. It opens the door to getting much better outcomes for a number of other diseases too now that the test is out there.”

The Genedrive test costs around £60 per baby at the moment and The development research took place at Manchester Biomedical Research Centre with £900,000 in funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) and support from the charity Action on Hearing Loss.