On 20 September during the run-up to the Conservative conference, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care Sajid Javid hosted a health and social care summit to help shape the future of healthcare reform.
The meeting comprised of 44 "vital leaders and experts from across the health and social care world", with the intention "to hear their views on how we deliver necessary reforms to meet and overcome the challenges we face".
However, as discovered by Disability News Service (DNS), there were no representatives from a disabled people's organisation (DPO) present or invited to the meeting.
This was despite the fact that a number of DPOs like Inclusion London contacted Javid prior to the meeting asking to be involved in the discussion on social care reform. They were met with the claim that he was too busy to meet them.
Only one person with a disability was invited to the meeting, chair of the Think Local Act Personal partnership board, Clenton Farquharson. However, he informed DNS that his invitation was at "extremely short notice" and that he was unable to attend, although he was still listed as an attendee by the Department of Health and Social Care.
Farquharson expressed his frustration, stating:
"People with lived experience are ready and willing to engage positively with government at this key and crucial time for disability policy and social care reform.
“It’s not acceptable to hold meetings with sector leaders whilst excluding people with lived experience who can contribute their expert knowledge and skills."
Such exclusion may be seen to be a violation of the UN's Convention on the Rights of Persons with Disabilities, which holds that DPOs must be engaged with during legislative and policy decisions on issues that relate to disabled people.
Tracey Lazard, chief executive of Inclusion London, admonishes "the failure to ensure any representation by disabled people and our organisations at this vital summit on social care marks a new low in this government’s already dismal record of engagement with DDPOs"
She went on to point out that almost half of people who use social care have a disability:
“We appear not to be seen as equals by this government and as a result we will continue to experience ‘care’ as something that is done to us, rather than with us.”
There appears to be mounting evidence that the Conservative party has little regard for the concerns of people with disabilities. During his keynote speech at the conservative party conference, Javid did not make any reference to disability or accessibility.
There has also been a significant pushback from DPOs surrounding the cut to universal credit, which will have a negative effect on around 800,000 people with disabilities and has prompted the creation of the DPAC (Disabled People Against Cuts).
Disability campaigners have made their objections to the Conservatives disability erasure in a number of ways, including sending a van to the Conservatice conference in Manchester that blasted stories from the lives of people with disabilities over loudspeakers.