Disability Manifesto 2017: The NHS

With just a few more days till the General Election, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living is today focusing on the NHS. The aim of the Disability Manifesto is to highlight the issues that Disabled People feel ALL political parties should commit to, following the General Election. We welcome your feedback on our Facebook page or via Twitter using the hashtag #DisMan17



Disabled People, particularly People with Learning Difficulties or Mental Health Conditions, experience significant and persistent health inequalities and are likely to die younger than other people.i They are also much less likely to receive health checks, screening tests and other routine healthcare treatment.

Disabled People are less likely to report positive experiences in accessing healthcare services.

Despite a commitment by the Government to make improvements to the provision of mental health services, considerable shortcomings remain. Disabled adults are more likely to report poor mental health and wellbeing than non-disabled adults.

There is also considerable evidence of low levels of disability awareness among NHS staff, inadequate healthcare treatmentii and access barriers to health services.iii

We call on all political parties to commit to eliminating health inequalities faced by Disabled People by 2025. This is a challenging target but one that can be achieved if the will is there to do so.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that Disabled People are able to access NHS services on an equal basis as everyone else. This can be achieved as part of a wider improvement programme – particularly in primary care, where many people face difficulty accessing services because of restricted opening times and procedures.

We also call on all political parties to commit to ensuring that mental health services are given equal priority to physical health services in the NHS.

We also call on all political parties to guarantee to close, within the first year of the next Parliament, the remaining hospitals in England where People with Learning Difficulties are still being sent, despite promises to end the practice in the wake of the Winterbourne View abuse scandal.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page.

i Equality and Human Rights Commission (2010) How Fair is Britain, Equality, Human Rights and Good Relations in 2010’, Chapter 6; Review of Mental Health and Learning Disability (Northern Ireland) (2005) Equal Lives Review of Policy and Services for People with a Learning Disability in Northern Ireland, p. 29; NHS Health Scotland (2004) People with Learning Disabilities in Scotland: The Health Needs Assessment Report’;

ii Disability Rights Commission (2006) Equal Treatment – Closing the Gap. disability-studies.leeds.ac.uk/files/library/DRC-Health-FI-main.pdf

iii Disability Rights Commission (2006) ‘Equal Treatment: Closing the Gap’; Redley M et al (2012) ‘Healthcare for men and women with learning disabilities: understanding inequalities in access’, Disability and Society, Vol. 27, No. 6: 747–759; BMA (2014) ‘Recognising the importance of physical health in mental health and intellectual disability’.


Baroness Jane Campbell and Sian Vasey Discuss SPECTRUM CIL’s Disability Manifesto 2017

SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living was delighted to welcome Baroness Jane Campbell, a cross bench peer in the House of Lords and Sian Vasey, a Disabled film maker, to Southampton to discuss all things Independent Living related with our Chief Executive, Ian Loynes. They covered a wide range of topics from employment to welfare reform, not forgetting Brexit of course. You can watch highlights of their conversation below.

All of them agreed that none of the political parties were yet offering a comprehensive disability strategy that would enable Disabled People to enjoy true equality within society.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page.




Summary of ‘Disability Manifesto’ now available


With the General Election just a week away, many people are still deciding on who they are going to vote for. The election campaign has been dominated by issues such as social care and welfare reform, although sadly the horrific terrorist attack in Manchester has focused everyone’s minds on the issue of safety and security.

Our ‘Disability Manifesto’ which sets out what Disabled People would like political parties to commit to doing in the next Parliament, has been a great success. We are aware that it is a fairly long document so we have summarised the key commitments for each topic area into a short document so people can see at a glance what Disabled People want the political parties to sign up to.

We hope this summary document will be easier for some people to access. We will also be tweeting out the key commitments between now and the big day as well as releasing a video with some very special guests discussing our manifesto so keep an eye on our blog and Facebook page over the next few days.

If you want to read the full manifesto, please visit our Disability Manifesto page

SPECTRUM 2017 Disability Manifesto out now!

There are more than 13.3 million Disabled People and people with long-term health conditions in the UK – a very sizeable part of the electorate in 2017.

We believe it is essential for Disabled People’s voices to be heard in the debates around the 2017 General Election – not only because they represent a large number of votes but, more importantly, because they are deeply affected by so many of the key issues at the heart of political debate.

On the 25th May 2017, SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living will be launching our Disabled People’s DISABILITY MANIFESTO – a pragmatic and realistic range of proposals which shows how the Government, any Government, could address the unfairness, the indignities and the discrimination that Disabled People have faced because of austerity measures.manifestocover2017


The launch of the DISABILITY Manifesto will be the start of our campaign to bring the needs, and the solutions that Disabled People are proposing, to the eyes and minds of the electorate, and into the minds of politicians and policy makers.

What is Social Care and Why It Should Be An Important Election Issue?

Until last autumn, many people might not of even heard of the term ‘Social Care’. For those of us requiring social care or working in the social care field, it seems incredible that people have such little awareness of what social care means and its importance in society. 

Maybe that’s because it sounds rather cosy. A close friend of mine thought social care meant taking someone out for a cup of coffee or helping an older person do their food shopping. She was aghast when I said it was more about a weekly bed bath or having 15 minutes to get someone out of bed, dumped in their wheelchair and left to enjoy repeats of ‘Homes under the Hammer’ for the rest of the day. Perhaps a tad of an exaggeration but you get my point. 

Social care is an essential part of many Disabled People’s lives, however political parties of all colours often talk about it as though it’s a luxury. If the NHS suddenly had its budget cut by 30%, there would be a national outcry, however this is the level of cuts that most local authorities (who administer social care services) have had to face over the last few years. 

Last autumn, social care suddenly hit the headlines. MPs all ran around, in collective denial, despite the fact that this had been a time bomb waiting to go off for many years. In 2011, the Dilnot Commission report was just one of a series of publications highlighting the need to come up with a long term sustainable solution to funding social care. For many reasons, most of the ideas from Dilnot were kicked into the long grass, never to be seen again.

Six years later, politicians are suggesting yet another commission to look at pretty much the same subject and will probably come up with similar solutions. As a user of social care services, I want to see action not commissions.

Recently, I attended a Kings Fund event on the topic of social care. On the panel were MPs from Labour, Liberal Democrats and the Conservatives. One of the striking things about the panel was how much consensus there was about needing to find solutions to the issue, however this cross party agreement doesn’t seem to last once they all get back to Whitehall. Party tribalism reigns again while Disabled People wait in vain hope that all the political parties will put aside the party politics and work together.

So we are left with the question – will social care become a major election issue? 

I think the answer is that it might do but probably only when it is linked to the NHS and getting older people out of hospital. Obviously this is an important issue. It is disgraceful that older people can’t be discharged from hospital because of delays in sorting out an appropriate social care package. Some political parties talk about the integration of social care and health care as being the answer but we must be wary of quick fixes. 

Whilst I’m sure health care and social care could work more closely together, it is important to remember that they are both managed by different authorities, they are governed by different pieces of legislation and health care is (mainly) free at point of delivery whilst social care is increasingly charged for, at least in part. My concern is the whole system would become completely medicalised so Disabled People would be seen as ‘patients’ even when they are living in their own home and any sense of the social model of disability would be lost forever.

So be wary of any political party in this election who thinks they can sort out the social care crisis in a single bullet point in their manifesto. Ask yourself which party is offering the most credible solution and will they be able to put it into practice? We won’t know the answer to that until the manifestos are published. My fear is that social care will become just another political football while what we probably need is a cross party solution. 

Disabled People Concerned About Snap Election 

So, here we go again! Britain will be going to the polls in just a matter of weeks to elect a new government, after Theresa May shocked the country by announcing a snap general election on June the 8th. The short timescale has concerned many Disabled People’s Organisations such as ourselves and Merton Centre for Independent Living. 

Merton CIL highlight three ways that the short timescale may impact on Disabled People’s ability to exercise her democratic right to vote. 

Firstly, some Disabled People may need support to register to vote. You have until the 22nd May to register to vote in the upcoming general election so if you are not already registered to vote then you can do it online at https://www.gov.uk/register-to-vote 

Secondly, despite much campaigning, some Disabled People still find that their local polling station is not accessible. It is true that you can opt for a postal vote but in 2017, it surely shouldn’t be too much to ask for polling stations to meet the needs of Disabled People.

Finally, there is a very real concern about whether the party manifestos will be available in accessible formats in good time. Different political parties have in the past neglected this issue until being lobbied hard by Disabled People’s Organisations. With much to do in six weeks, what is the bet that the needs of Disabled People in all these different areas will not be seen as a priority by political parties? 

Leaving aside the practical issues, there is also a concern that Disability issues will yet again be overlooked during the election. Sure, we might get a brief mention if the social care crisis gets raised (and we hope it does!) but we share the concern of many that the election will be focused on one issue – Brexit. As Merton CIL rightly state ‘We are concerned that this election might be dominated by Brexit, when so many of our members and local Disabled people have many other very important issues to raise, which are often forgotten about.’

Over the next few weeks, we will be highlighting some of these ‘forgotten’ issues and holding all political parties to account. Let us know what really matters to you. You can Tweet us at @SPECTRUMCIL or visit our Facebook page

‘Together we are stronger’ SPECTRUM on the EU


As the EU referendum campaign begins its final week before the vote on Thursday, many people on both sides of the debate will breathe a sigh of relief that’s it’s nearly over.

The shocking murder of Jo Cox will hopefully lead to a more dignified conclusion to the campaign.
SPECTRUM Centre for Independent Living took the decision fairly early on in the campaign to support the Remain In side of the debate. We are pleased to see that the majority of Disabled People’s Organisations who have expressed a view have joined our position that Disabled People’s lives have been improved by Britain being in the European Union and that our rights will be protected better by remaining in the EU.

As one of our closest allies, John Evans has pointed out, many of the laws around accessibility and human rights have originated within the EU. Whilst none of these laws would change overnight if we were to leave, there is a clear and present danger that Disabled People’s rights and entitlements would be undermined if we were to leave the European Union.

We are aware that migration is an issue that many people feel strongly about, however one of the strengths of Britain is the diversity of our different communities. SPECTRUM has always felt that diversity should be celebrated and welcomed. Southampton, the city where SPECTRUM is based, has many citizens from other EU countries. Over 10% of staff at Southampton General Hospital are from other EU countries. Dedicated doctors, nurses as well as other support staff who keep our NHS running. Many EU citizens work in the social care sector too, supporting Disabled People to live independent lives within society. Despite this, locally we have real difficulties recruiting staff to work in social care. How much worse will be the recruitment crisis if Britain leaves the EU.

SPECTRUM has made a short video interviewing our CEO, Ian Loynes.


We will also posting a list of links you may want to look at, ahead of the vote on Thursday, to inform your decision.
SPECTRUM thinks you should vote to remain, but we believe Disabled People should think through the options and make their own decision. Think about what matters to you. Do you want to live in a country that respects equality and human rights? Do you welcome diversity within your community and reject prejudice?

It’s now up to YOU! As Berni Vincent, our Volunteer and Training manager, said ‘I think Disabled People should most definitely vote. Our votes have been hard won over time. Together we are stronger.’