Disabled People (Social Model of Disability) JSNA Report for Manchester

B for Breakthrough

This is an updated Joint Strategic Needs Assessment (JSNA) Topic Paper on the Social Model of Disability.

This report was co-produced with Breakthrough UK and Manchester’s Population Health Team. It focuses on disabled adults, children and young people and is written through the lens of the Social Model of Disability. As such, the focus is on identifying and removing disabling barriers present in society, rather than on people’s impairments.

Nationally, disabled adults report much lower rates of good health overall compared with non-disabled adults and disabled people are four times more likely to die of preventable causes than the general population. Barriers to accessing healthcare are a significant reason for this. Published research looking at the experiences of disabled people in the UK shows that disabled people report worse access to healthcare – with transportation, cost and long waiting lists being the main barriers.

All of the health and wellbeing inequalities facing disabled people have been further exposed and exacerbated by COVID-19. Office for National Statistics (ONS) figures show disabled people have made up about three-fifths of COVID-related deaths in England and Wales.  Government commissioned research on the lived experience of disabled people during the COVID-19 pandemic published in September 2021 also highlighted disabling barriers emerging through the pandemic. More locally, the findings from the Greater Manchester Disabled People’s Panel Big Disability Survey 2020 show that inequalities in mental wellbeing between disabled and non-disabled residents have been exacerbated by the COVID-19 pandemic and 90% of respondents said that the pandemic has had a negative impact on their mental health.

As well as summarising the evidence on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on disabled people, the topic report outlines some of the possible solutions to addressing the barriers to disabled people relating to COVID-19. These recommendations have been drawn up a panel of Manchester based disabled people facilitated by Breakthrough UK who provide guidance to system leaders in the city to remove disabling barriers, based on their own lived experience. These recommendations cover such areas as:

  • Information and advice around COVID-19

  • Transportation and travel

  • Digital inclusion

  • Employment and education

  • After care services (e.g. for Long Covid)

  • Shared learning and experience of removing barriers

The topic report also describes the wide range of work that is going on across the city to improve the lives of disabled people. This is complementary to the work to improve the health and wellbeing of all Manchester residents as set out in the Manchester Locality Plan. The ambition is for Manchester to be a fully accessible city that puts disabled people at the front of projects and creates an inclusive and co-productive approach as a default.

The final section of the topic report contains a series of ‘opportunities for action’ that should be considered by commissioners and strategic bodies, providers, VCSE organisations, disabled people and allies.

You can read the report on the Manchester JSNA website here:


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