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COVID-19 hinders access to medicines for disabled people in Scotland

Sixty-four per cent of disabled people in Scotland have struggled to access medicines and food amid the COVID-19 outbreak, a parliamentary debate heard.

This is due to the systems for supporting disabled people's access to such basics becoming less accessible during the pandemic, said Susie Fitton, policy officer from Scottish disabled people's organisation Inclusion Scotland.

The organisation had surveyed 822 disabled people across Scotland in April to learn about the impact of COVID-19 on their lives, Ms Fitton told Scottish MPs last week (June 10).

Difficulties getting to pharmacy

Ms Fitton said there have been reports of “significant delays” in accessing medicines such as insulin, vitamin B12 injections and pain relief.

“The reasons given for that were that chemists were unable to dispense the medication, that appointments for medication to be administered were cancelled, that pharmacists were dispensing smaller amounts of medication and that many disabled people had significant difficulty in getting to the pharmacy,” she added.

She warned that a second or third wave of the virus could result in a “potentially larger crisis” for disabled people unless “sufficient measures” are put in place to ensure that this group can access vital medicines.

“Break down barriers”

A Scottish government spokesperson told C+D yesterday (June 14) that since April 14, people in need of “essential help and who had no other support available” have been able to call a national phone line for local assistance, including access to medication and food.

“The Scottish government is committed to working with disabled people and their organisations to solve problems and break down barriers, and we have been in regular contact with a number of organisations to ensure that the lived experience of disabled people has been incorporated into our response,” the spokesperson added.

Have disabled patients told you they have been struggling to get medicines?

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