A recent survey by Engage Britain has found that nearly one in five disabled people report receiving second-rate healthcare.

The survey of 4,010 people found that although the NHS unites us in being ‘proud to be British’, people with disabilities don’t always have a positive experience within health and care services.

In total, 18% of disabled people experienced ableism when seeking healthcare. In conversations, the phrase most often used was feeling like “second class citizens”.

The research also found that disabled people and their families often find health and care staff don’t consult them properly when treating or caring for them.

They also said that doctors sometimes dismiss symptoms that are unusual and troubling for them as being part of their disability.

“We don’t have consideration for people that can’t speak out loudly”

In a community conversations video, people with disabilities explain the problems they have faced.

One individual said: “The system … feels like a big juggernaut and it won’t actually move or meet the actual access needs of people with learning difficulties or learning disabilities.”

Another said she felt “horrified and disgusted at how people with learning disabilities were treated when they were in hospital”. She went on to say she didn’t think many improvements had been made over the last 30 years and that people with learning disabilities are often still “seen as second-class citizens”.

This idea was echoed by another person in the video, who explained how during the pandemic, Do Not Resuscitate (DNR) orders were applied to people with Down’s Syndrome without their permission, simply because of their condition.

“I think what Covid has shown is that we don’t have consideration for people that can’t speak out loudly,” she added.

Engage Britain’s director, Julian McCrae, says the results of the survey reveal the need for urgent change within the health service.

She said: “The NHS unites so many of us with a feeling of pride. But the fact is millions are also being let down every day by our health and care services…It’s vital that future changes address the daily challenges that so many in Britain are facing. Only answers rooted in real experiences can deliver health and care that works for us all.”