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LETTER TO EDITOR: Britain’s carers must be prioritised for COVID vaccine or NHS will face disaster, Revitalise say

February 11, 2021

I’d like to take a moment to share some important words with your readers from Revitalise. As an organisation which specialises in providing respite support to disabled people and their carers, we have taken it upon ourselves to ask the Government to prioritise the vaccination of Britain’s army of home carers or risk the NHS becoming overwhelmed if they catch COVID-19.

We are trying to get the message out there that without immunisation at the earliest possible opportunity, carers will no longer be able to perform their caring duties and our hospitals will be inundated. One family carer contracting the virus means at least two people needing extra support, doubling the impact.

We made the plea after the Downing Street press conference on Monday evening in which Health Secretary Matt Hancock claimed the Government was looking “very closely” into where unpaid carers fit in the vaccine prioritisation list, following input from Carers World claiming that unpaid workers still don’t feel recognised.

Whilst unpaid carers are labelled as priority group 6 for the COVID vaccine – recognising the important role they play in supporting the NHS – the reality is that many carers have still not been offered the vaccine, despite many being the sole provider for their loved ones.

There are an estimated 13.6 million unpaid carers in the UK today, of which 4.5 million became carers since the pandemic began. These carers provide vital support, often around the clock, relieving enormous strain from the NHS.

One carer, Hilary, has been looking after her disabled son, Shaun, for 15 years following an accident during a holiday in Ibiza, despite herself having emphysema, chronic kidney disease, and a problem with her aortic valve. Hilary has faced enormous challenges since the start of the pandemic, and has yet to be offered the COVID-19 vaccination. She is forced to turn down any care support she is offered, as she knows it increases the risk of her or Shaun catching the virus.

We would like your readers to know that we are welcoming disabled people and carers through the doors of our Revitalise Sandpipers centre in Merseyside, in an attempt to circumvent some of the immense pressures facing unpaid carers, who have not been able to access a respite break for nearly a year due to the pandemic. We have funding available to subsidise your break, and can also provide transport across the country.

The pressure is continuing to build for these carers, with no end in sight. Anyone who feels they can benefit from our help, only needs to ask.

Devon Prosser, Revitalise  

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