The government has set up a billed online register as a means of reaching “extremely vulnerable” households in England who have been asked to protect for 12 weeks – either by offering them food parcels through their local authority, or by liaising with the main supermarkets to give priority to online delivery. .
However, it appeared that a large number of disabled and elderly people were excluded from the program due to very selective criteria.
About 100 severely disabled and chronically ill people say they have been rejected from the government registry and therefore have been left without support to access food without leaving their homes, although they are particularly vulnerable to the coronavirus.
Their conditions include cancer treated with chemotherapy, heart disease, quadriplegia, motor neuron disease (MND), myalgic encephalomyelitis (ME) and muscular dystrophy. Some people with disabilities reported sleeping to avoid hunger pains or living off fruit. At least one person refused assistance then contracted a coronavirus.
“I have had four letters saying that I should protect myself, but Gov.uk does not recognize me for being on the online vulnerable list,” said Vicky McDermott, 40, in Northumberland, who suffers from immune disorder. rheumatoid arthritis and a girl with a life-limiting condition who was also asked to protect herself.
“I tried to register last night for the fifth time. Supermarkets will not put us on the priority list because we are not registered with the government. “
McDermott resorted to buying food from “online corner stores” with a large profit margin. “A can of beans costs £ 2,” she said.
Deborah Bhatti, 50, of Bury in Greater Manchester, takes 40 medicines a day, including for asthma and autoimmune diseases, but is not on the list. This means that she is not eligible for the program of her local council to collect prescriptions or distribute food parcels. “I had to share a can of tuna with my cat,” said Bhatti. “I feel hopeless and scared and have bad dreams every night. “
The Ministry of Health and Social Affairs said that there was a short delay between people identified as clinically extremely vulnerable by their general practitioner and receipt of their clinician’s NHS letter, and that their identity was extracted from the records the general practitioner to allow them to register for support. He added that he is updating the patient list, which allows people to sign up for support from GP files on a weekly basis.
But doctors and patients report confusion about how it is managed. When Denise Stephens, 41, who had multiple sclerosis and was immunocompromised, was rejected, she followed the directions to call her general practitioner, but hit a brick wall. “My general practitioner said that they could not help me and that they did not know why the government was sending them information about it,” she said. Last month, Stephens contracted a coronavirus. She has had to call an ambulance at her London home twice, but she is still not eligible for help with food or medicine.