Posted 02.04.2020

Disability Action are deeply concerned by recent guidance ‘COVID-19: ethical issues.

Guidance for doctors on ethical issues likely to arise when providing care and treatment during the COVID-19 outbreak’ (link: that was released by the British Medical Association (BMA) to their members yesterday (01.04.2020).

Whilst we are living in challenging times, Disability Action firmly believe guidance, with potential to run contrary to international human rights standards and ultimately to the detriment of critically ill disabled people, should never be considered acceptable.

Whilst we continue to fully support our dedicated medical professionals and urge all people to isolate; as an organisation we now urge the BMA to reconsider the guidance it has produced as a matter of urgency.

We view the use of rationale in respect of limited resource, and public law interpretation of ‘justifiable’ indirect discrimination as deeply troubling. A matter which ultimately has seen NICE Guidance be reviewed and amended in the last week (Disability Action's call to NICE to amend Guidance). At best rationale put forward in this BMA guidance is morally ambiguous for Medical staff, at worst action/inaction arising could be open to innumerable legal challenges by patients or bereaved families.

We believe that disabled people, like all others, are entitled to healthcare without discrimination.

The rights based approach to healthcare as envisaged by the World Health Organisation views ‘the highest attainable standard of health as a fundamental right of every human being’. (Human Rights and Health Fact Sheet).

We believe it is critically important healthcare professionals have guidance which includes and accurately reflects disabled people as citizens with fundamental rights (like all others) in the difficult times ahead.

We also believe it is critical that we all have the medical equipment and resources needed.

We call on the BMA to now reach out and meaningfully engage with Disabled People’s Organisations. Participation is central to a rights based approach to health.

‘We are all in this together’.

We are happy to witness so many in our community coming together (including healthcare professionals) to highlight and challenge this troubling issue.

 ‘Together as one and Nothing About Us, Without Us!’