More than a third of Sheffield households home to sick or disabled

More than a third of Sheffield households contain someone with a long-term health problem or disability, figures show.

Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 1:51 pm
Updated Thursday, 23rd April 2020, 1:52 pm

New analysis of coronavirus deaths during March has found nine in 10 victims had pre-existing health conditions.

But disability rights campaigners have stressed care must be taken when discussing coronavirus and sick or disabled people, to avoid implying they are “somehow expendable”.

Out of the 229,928 households in Sheffield who took part in the 2011 census, 80,217 (35%) contained at least one person with a life-limiting health problem or disability.

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That was higher than the average of 33% across England and Wales.

Of these, 18,028 (8%) contained two or more disabled or sick people.

Residents were asked whether their day-to-day activities were limited in any way because of a health problem or disability which had lasted, or was expected to last, at least 12 months.

While the figures are from 2011, the Office for National Statistics says any change is likely to be relatively minor.

A new analysis of deaths involving Covid-19 by the ONS meanwhile found that 91% of people who died with, or as a result of, the virus in March had at least one pre-existing health condition.

Ischaemic heart disease – also known as coronary heart disease or coronary artery disease – was the most common condition. Pneumonia, dementia and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease were also prevalent.

But disability charity Scope says the way in which coronavirus and pre-existing conditions are discussed risks devaluing the lives of disabled people.

Ceri Smith, head of policy and campaigns at the charity, said: "The narrative and language used around coronavirus and people with underlying health conditions is casually dismissive of disabled people’s lives.

"It’s appalling that the implication is that disabled people are somehow expendable.

"Disabled people’s lives are just as important as everyone else’s, whether we’re in a global pandemic or not."

While the census figures cannot identify the exact number of people with the specific conditions that would put them at risk of severe illness from Covid-19, the ONS says they can be used as a proxy to assess the number of people in the most vulnerable groups.

Many of the conditions that the NHS says make people particularly vulnerable to Covid-19 would qualify them for a free flu jab each winter.

Figures from Public Health England for the 2018-19 winter season show there were 71787 patients aged between six months and 65 years on GPs' registers in Sheffield with conditions that would have entitled them to a jab.

At-risk groups include people with diabetes, heart disease, chronic respiratory conditions such as asthma, kidney or liver disease, neurological conditions like Parkinson's, and people with a weakened immune system as the result of cancer treatment or HIV.

Pregnant women are not included in the figures, although they are also an at-risk group, and eligible for the flu vaccine.

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