Lack of priority for Covid-19 vaccines for people with learning disabilities challenged through judicial review

An application for judicial review has been issued by two people with a learning disability, challenging the way in which access to the Covid-19 vaccine has been prioritised. Steve Broach and Rachel Sullivan are instructed for the Claimants by Bindmans LLP.

At present, there is no priority for the Covid-19 vaccine for people with learning disabilities as a global cohort, or for working age adults in care settings. There is some priority for certain groups of people with learning disabilities, including those with Down syndrome and people whose level of learning disability is 'severe' or 'profound'. However there is evidence that the impact of Covid-19 is far more serious for all people with learning disabilities, compared with the general population.

In pre-action correspondence, the Secretary of State has stated that his decision on prioritisation was taken on the basis he was bound to accept the advice of the relevant expert group (the JCVI). However he now accepts that this was wrong, and he was not required to accept this advice.

As well as relying on this misdirection in law, the Claimants also allege that the prioritisation decision was irrational and discriminatory, and was taken in breach of the 'public sector equality duty' (section 149 of the Equality Act 2010).

The Secretary of State will respond to the claim on Friday 5 February 2021. The Claimants are seeking an urgent hearing, and if the claim succeeds will be asking the Court to order the Secretary of State to reconsider his decision as to priority for the vaccines.

Further information is available from the Claimants' solicitors, Bindmans LLP