DJ Jo Whiley says it was “the worst week of our lives” when her sister with learning disabilities and diabetes is in the hospital with Covid

The BBC Radio 2 presenter said Frances Whiley, 53, was offered a vaccine on Saturday but it was “too late” and she was now “fighting for her life”

And she urged ministers to “forget the classifications” and to protect all people with learning difficulties

Whiley said her sister has gotten very sick since testing positive for coronavirus after an outbreak at her Nottinghamshire nursing home

“Twenty-four hours ago we were talking about palliative care and yesterday she gathered and we see her oxygen levels go up, so for now we have hope

“Twenty-four hours ago we had no hope at all, so she’s an amazing fighter, she’s always been a great fighter and I just hope her spirit gets her through”

But she said it was especially difficult to treat people with learning disabilities because they had complex needs and often had difficulty communicating

She said Frances was so scared that she would not allow medical staff to give her oxygen, adding, “That’s why her oxygen levels went down, that’s why she was fighting for her life”

While she said her parents hadn’t slept for “days” but were fortunately allowed to be in the hospital with Frances

She said, “The idea of ​​Frances having to do this on her own is unthinkable, and in fact, people couldn’t handle Frances either”

Her sister was so scared when she admitted that “she was actually rampaging around the hospital and people couldn’t hold her back and security had to be involved, they had to hold her back,” explained Whiley

She added, “The fact that my mom was there and could talk her out and be with her and try to give her oxygen was crucial”

Whiley previously asked why she was offered the vaccine in front of her sister, who has the rare genetic syndrome, Cri du Chat, but said it may have been because she was viewed as her sister’s caregiver

People with diabetes and people with a “severe or severe” learning disability are in priority group six for the coronavirus vaccine, along with unpaid carers for people with disabilities and the elderly

While speaking to Andrew Marr, Whiley said, “It felt like the cruelest turn in the world because I asked about her and wanted her to be vaccinated for a year to be protected

“Then all of a sudden when I got a call to say I had the vaccine, it just felt terribly unfair.

“And she was actually called last night about her vaccine My mother got the message that she could be vaccinated, but it’s too late, she’s fighting for her life in the hospital. It couldn’t be more cruel “

Whiley said she hoped speaking about her sister would underscore the need to vaccinate people with learning difficulties “as soon as possible”

She said, “Forget the classifications, forget the cohorts, just protect these people, they are so valuable, they are so vulnerable, and they have no way of fighting for themselves – we have to fight for them, let them and theirs Vaccinate caregivers so they don’t die “

Health Secretary Matt Hancock, who also spoke to Andrew Marr, said, “My hearts go out to Jo and to her sister and all of her family”

When asked if he found it strange that Whiley was offered the vaccine before her sister, he said it was “very important that we follow clinical advice regarding the order of prioritization”

“And in group six, as they say, we vaccinate people with learning difficulties as well as their caregivers and this group is being vaccinated”

Edel Harris, CEO of Mencap’s learning disability charity, said Whiley’s sister’s story highlighted that people with learning disabilities in England suffered “major health inequalities” and should be prioritized for vaccination

Ms. Harris told the BBC, “The virus doesn’t decide if you are severe or severe or mild or moderate – general practitioners don’t even use these definitions, so we think they are arbitrary, they mean nothing”

Almost six in ten people who died of coronavirus in England last year were disabled, according to the National Statistics Office

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Source: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-56139393