UK Equality and Human Rights Commission - are ME/CFS and Long Covid classed as disabilities?

Discussion in 'General disability topics and advocacy' started by Jonathan Edwards, May 10, 2022.

  1. Jonathan Edwards

    Jonathan Edwards Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Discussion moved from the Long Covid in the media thread

    Has this Guardian article been posted?
    Alarm after EHRC says long Covid should not be treated as disability
    Equalities watchdog statement provokes backlash from coronavirus support groups and unions
    https://www.theguardian.com/society...ong-covid-should-not-be-treated-as-disability

    It seems that for some reason LongCovid is not as much a disability as HIV or cancer. But it can still make you disabled. Guardian reporting on these issues tends not to be very insightful so I am not sure how relevant it is.
     
    Last edited by a moderator: Dec 31, 2022
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  2. Mithriel

    Mithriel Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    This statement is very strange. From tweets quoting the definitions of disability it is to hard see why it should not be classed as one. I could understand if they said you have to have had it for a certain length of time but to dismiss it altogether seems mistaken and could have profound consequences for society.

    They make a big thing of benefits being based on what you can do, not what diagnosis you have so it will only affect those things by trivialising and psychologising the disease (even if only unconsciously)

    The direct consequence is that employers will not have to make reasonable adjustments for people returning to work. When you consider how many health care workers and teachers have become ill and how long and how much it will cost to replace them it is vital that it is made as simple as possible for people to do any work they can.

    A teacher working a few hours a day with a place to lie down between classes or a doctor who can see patients for straightforward things on zoom occasionally can take some of the pressure off their colleagues but will it happen now?
     
  3. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I don't think this article has been posted, but we have discussed earlier in this thread the EHRC tweet announcing this 'policy'. It is quite shocking, and must be fought.

    I have submitted a FOI request to EHRC request to ascertain whether this is now their policy and how they came to this decision.
     
  4. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    Although, again, the nature of the definition of long covid is an issue. For many, LC is not disabling, and they can work and live their lives as normal.
     
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  5. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I am wondering—because this is not an area that I have much expertise in—is ME/CFS classed as a disability in this context?
     
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  6. Mij

    Mij Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    I was automatically denied Federal disability benefits when I first applied in 1992. The judicator concluded that I was still capable of 'gainful employment", so I decided to call the Ministry of Health and spoke to the judicator who reviewed and denied my claim to ask how she came to her decision. She was very polite and admitted that she had no knowledge of M.E. I gave her an ear load of information.

    She told me she would review my case after my doctor appealed the decision. I was approved for benefits a few months later.
     
  7. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

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    In the UK, the short answer would seem to be that ME/CFS isn't automatically classed as a disability but it might be possible to prove that it is.

    References used to reach that opinion:

    "Some impairments are automatically treated as a disability. You’ll be covered if you have:

    • cancer, including skin growths that need removing before they become cancerous
    • a visual impairment - this means you’re certified as blind, severely sight impaired, sight impaired or partially sighted
    • multiple sclerosis
    • an HIV infection - even if you don't have any symptoms
    • a severe, long-term disfigurement - for example severe facial scarring or a skin disease"
    from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/l...ted-characteristics/what-counts-as-disability

    and then

    "The Equality Act 2010 says you mustn’t be discriminated against because of your disability.

    Some conditions are automatically treated as a disability under the Equality Act. But if you don't have one of these conditions and you want to make a claim for disability discrimination, you will have to show the effect your condition has on your daily life to prove it's a disability."

    from https://www.citizensadvice.org.uk/l...owing-you-re-disabled-under-the-equality-act/
     
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  8. InitialConditions

    InitialConditions Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    So the EHRC could have swapped 'ME/CFS' for 'long covid' in their tweet and it would reflect the status quo for ME/CFS...
     
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  9. Andy

    Andy Committee Member

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    Yes, very much so.
     
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  10. SNT Gatchaman

    SNT Gatchaman Senior Member (Voting Rights)

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    The EHRC have - to put it mildly - fumbled this.

    I'm a very good example of this. I was completely out of action for many months, but as I improved to moderate I have been able to slowly increase work from home and can now do half-time. I'm very fortunate in that I can do useful work without actually setting foot in the hospital and seeing patients. A good computer set-up (no shortage of this at my house!), fast broadband and a dark room and I can report imaging studies fairly efficiently.

    This is a shadow of my previous professional life and boy do I miss patients, families and colleagues; but I accept it for what it is and am grateful to be this capable. I chat over studies on the phone and I ring into the department to annoy the techs with special requests - surprising how quickly junior staff turnover finds me to be an increasingly unknown quantity / ghostly presence! However, my colleagues on the frontlines are delighted with not-quite-so-heavy-lifting I contribute and are at pains to say how valuable they find it knowing I am there behind the scenes in support.

    The longer this pandemic goes on, with a stubborn denial of reality and a political drive to return to a normal that is currently out of reach: the more health systems are going to lose capability. It would be in their interests to protect and nurture what they have left.
     

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