I haven't blogged for a while as I have been a bit unwell but I received an email yesterday from someone in Barnet who I admire immensely and I feel compelled to pass on his story.
John & Ida Sullivan had a daughter, Susan, who I met on a number of occasions at various campaigns and marches about the Barnet Council under the previous Conservative regime. Susan, who had Downs syndrome, was a very lively and cheerful person. I didn't know until I listened to the podcasts, just what a talent Susan had as a swimmer, winning numerous medals at the Special Olympics. Sadly she caught covid at the very start of lockdown in March 2020 and died shortly after. What is shocking are the details John reveals in two podcasts:
What I learned from these podcasts is how people with disabilities were treated differently and inhumanely during covid, how hospitals ignored the knowledge, experience and wishes of carers. According to research 6 out of 10 people who died from covid were disabled. John and his family discovered that because Susan had Downs syndrome and a pacemaker she was denied access to the ITU at Barnet General and deemed "not for resuscitation" even though her family had asked for her to be resuscitated and until covid she had been in excellent health.
John wants to give his evidence of how Susan was unjustly treated to the Covid Inquiry chaired by Baroness Hallett but sadly he will not be able to do so but instead a large amount of personal evidence will be 'amalgamated' by a research company into 'Every Story Matters' where "stories will be collated, analysed and turned into themed reports, which will be submitted into each relevant investigation as evidence. The reports will be anonymised". John doesn't want Susan's story amalgamated and anonymised. All Baroness Hallett was asked to do by the legal team for the bereaved families, was to hear the witness statement of just 20 families, and she refused. Making time for those 20 families seems entirely reasonable and fair in an inquiry where public hearings are scheduled to concluded Summer 2026. Surely there must be room to hear those 20 families in such a lengthy timetable.
At one point in the podcast John says "The only voice my daughter has got is me. I will, to my dying breath, fight to give Susan that voice, and all the other Susans, at the Inquiry."
I hope that Baroness Hallett thinks again and allows the victims' families to give their experience to the Covid Inquiry in person so that the real story of how so many disable people died during covid can be heard and lessons learned.