Conclusion and next steps
In this report we have demonstrated that the mortality rate related to COVID-19 for disabled people in Scotland is likely to be higher for disabled than non-disabled people. This follows previous work in England and Wales showing higher mortality rates amongst disabled people and a comparison of a range of similar factors in Scotland, including:
- Demographics of the disabled population are broadly similar
- Prevalence of long- term conditions in Scotland, England and Wales are similar
- Demographic profile of COVID related death is similar for older people
- Frequency of types of pre-existing health conditions prior to COVID death are similar
However, we have also noted that there are differences for people aged below 65 with women in Scotland whose deaths have involved COVID-19 more likely to have the pre-existing conditions of 'ischaemic heart diseases' and 'chronic lower respiratory diseases', and both men and women more likely to have pre-existing conditions of 'diabetes' and 'cirrhosis and other disease of the liver' than people aged under 65 in England and Wales. These patterns may be due to differences in underlying population health.
NRS will publish data on COVID-19 related deaths by disability status in Scotland in March. This work will use a similar methodology to the ONS work published in September 2020. In addition, NHS Education for Scotland Digital Service (NDS) and Public Health Scotland (PHS) are in the process of working on a model – QCOVID – which will help Scottish Government to identify and improve support to those people who are most vulnerable of being seriously ill or dying from COVID-19, which includes people with pre-existing health conditions. This model was developed by the University of Oxford, and has been validated by Edinburgh University.
We have also highlighted some of the areas where COVID-19 restrictions have disproportionately impacted disabled people, noting the Scottish Government action taken to mitigate these effects where possible.
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