During the restriction of movements as a result of the COVID-19 outbreak all scheduled meetings listed on the North Yorkshire Partnership website will not be taking place or will be carried out virtually. For further information please contact the named contact for the relevant meetings or email

*** Links to accessible information and translations into community languages can be found by clicking here ***

North Yorkshire Disability Forum - COVID-19 meeting 29 January 2021

For a printable copy of these minutes, please email 

Joint Forums meeting with Richard Webb

Friday 29 January 2021 at 2pm

Key to abbreviations

  • Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG)
  • Craven Disability Forum (CDF)
  • Harrogate District Disability Forum (HDDF)
  • Harrogate Mental Health Service User and Carer Forum (HMHSU&CF)
  • Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI)
  • Northallerton Over Fifties Forum (NAOFF)
  • North Yorkshire County Council (NYCC)
  • North Yorkshire Disability Forum (NYDF)
  • North Yorkshire Learning Disability Partnership Board (NYLDPB)
  • Ripon Disability Forum (RDF)
  • Selby District Disability Forum (SDDF)
  • Yorkshire Coast and Ryedale Disability Forum (YCRDF)


Present: Phil Dodson (Chair, SDDF), Katie Peacock (NYLDPB), Bridget Hardy (YCRDF), John Slaughter (NAOFF), Nick Moxon (HDDF), Mark Hamblin (NYLDPB), Ruth Middleton (HDDF and HMHSU&CF), Ashley Timson (HMHSU&CF), Helen Firth (CDF), Christopher Porter (NYLDPB), Ian Lawson (YCRDF), Maggie Donnelly (RDF), Kim Sanders (KeyRing), Richard Webb (NYCC), Ruth Hine (NYCC), Shanna Carrell (NYCC), Claire Canavan (NYCC)

Apologies: Jeremy Dunford (RDF)

Phil welcomed everyone to the meeting and everyone introduced themselves.

Richard began the meeting by giving an update on the current situation with regards to coronavirus infection rates. He thanked everyone for the support they have been giving one another and their wider communities.

The meeting then moved on to the questions which forum members had submitted in advance. Richard and Ruth H worked through answering the questions in the meeting.

  1. Questions about vaccination prioritisation

Question from Mark and Katie, NYLDPB

People with learning difficulties are 6 times more likely to die from Coronavirus. Can you tell us how far down the priority list people with learning difficulties are to getting a vaccine? Could you give this information to us in easy read?

 Is anything NYCC could do to help all people with learning disabilities in North Yorkshire, not just those with severe learning disabilities, move further up the priority list especially given the information supplied re the life chances for people with a learning disability if they contract Covid?

Learning Disability England have reported that there is local flexibility in vaccine priority and that one county has already made people with learning disabilities priority group 1 - “because of the evidence that people were disproportionately affected in December (more people dying than rest of population) as well as wave 1”

Response and discussion

Richard explained that in North Yorkshire the NHS have been following the guidance issued by the JCVI and have been vaccinating the top four priority groups. NYCC has made representation to CCGs about people with a learning disability receiving the vaccine and are happy to do this again, but the decision-making is ultimately within the NHS. Ruth H said that the positive aspect is that people are being vaccinated and the NHS are working through the priority groups quickly.

Richard said that there is accessible information on the North Yorkshire Partnerships website. He said that NYCC had

advocated for people where possible such as ensuring that supported living is included within the definition of care settings.

Accessible Information about COVID-19 on North Yorkshire Partnerships website

Easy read and audio information about vaccine priority groups: 

Question from Bridget, YCRDF

Many disabled people have died during the pandemic. You hear on the news about when people are going to be vaccinated but nothing about disabled people. You hear about carers getting a vaccination however those they care for need it at the same time as after the carers have a vaccination these people can become Covid carriers without knowing. We are concerned about disabled people (including people with a learning disability) being missed.

What priority will disabled people be for receiving the vaccine? Bearing in mind recent reports that the supply of vaccines to the North East and Yorkshire regions will be halved this week, will this affect when disabled people are invited for vaccination?

Response and discussion

Richard explained that it has been nationally mandated that care workers be vaccinated. NYCC are helping to ensure that Personal Assistants (PAs) get vaccinated as part of this. They are also reminding care workers that they need to continue to use PPE and continue to be vigilant of exposing themselves to any risks. Bridget asked if this message could be emailed to PAs.

Ruth M explained that she employs PAs privately and asked how they can get the vaccine. Richard said that they have been looking at this and will follow it up after the meeting. Katie said that she runs a peer support group for people who employ PAs and they have been contacted by the Direct Payments team about this.

  • Action: Richard to write via the Direct Payments team to all PAs reminding them to continue to take precautions following their vaccinations.
  • Action: Richard to follow up regarding how privately employed PAs can get vaccinated.

Question from Christopher, NYLDPB

Will family members be invited to have the COVID vaccine at the same time as vulnerable people in their family?

Response and discussion

Richard explained that it varies by each GP practice. Richard has been advocating for family carers to be vaccinated.

Question from HDDF

It can be confusing to know which priority group you fall into. How do people know if they are part of a vulnerable or at risk group? How do people find out when they will get their first and second vaccinations? We think all disabled people should vaccinated as a priority and that it should not just be done on age. It is causing a lot of anxiety for our disabled members.

Response and Discussion

Richard offered to share information about the different priority groups. It is not within the council’s powers to alter the priority list as it has been decided nationally. If you are uncertain about which group you fall into and have a routine medical appointment coming up you could ask then, or discuss it with your social worker or advocate

  • Action: Claire/Shanna to share information about different priority groups

Question from Ashley,  HMHSU&CF

Are people with mental health problems classed as vulnerable and therefore able to be vaccinated soon?

Response and Discussion

Richard explained that people with severe mental illness are included in Priority Group 6. There are two ways you may be contacted about the vaccine. Your GP may contact you or you could be invited to a mass vaccination centre. If you are invited to a mass vaccination centre you will be able to choose whether you would rather do this or wait to be contacted by your GP. You should wait to be contacted rather than contacting your GP. If you have other circumstances which put you in Groups 1-4 (e.g. aged 70+ or have a condition which makes you clinically extremely vulnerable), you will be vaccinated earlier.

  1. Questions about medication interactions

Question from Ashley,  HMHSU&CF

Does the corona vaccine interfere with anti-psychotic medication?

Response and Discussion

Ruth H said they are not aware of any interactions with anti-psychotic medication at present but they can look into it and feed back through Shanna. If you have concerns about interactions between the vaccine and your medication you should contact your GP.

Action: Ruth H to check interactions with anti-psychotic medication and feed back through Shanna

  1. Questions about accessing vaccinations / transport

Question RDF

Question from HDDF

How do people attend the vaccination centres if they do not have transport? How do they receive their vaccination if they are house bound?

What support is available for disabled people and older people who need to travel to one of the vaccination hubs? We have heard that the process of booking it can be quite complex and are concerned that this could be off-putting. Elderly and vulnerable people need to be kept safe. Is it possible for people to vaccinated at home, for people who do not live in care settings?

Response and Discussion

Richard explained that the NHS is responsible for all elements of the vaccination scheme including transport but NYCC is assisting as much as possible and working with the NHS. If you are offered an appointment, you should let them know that you need help with transport.

Some voluntary sector groups have minibuses which they have offered to support the vaccination programme. However, NYCC realise that some people will need help to access appointments and the guidance which follows should resolve most situations.

If someone needs transport to get to a Covid vaccination appointment they should first ask family, friends or neighbours if they can help. The national guidance on car sharing provides advice on safe practices  and the current national restrictions allows exemptions for household mixing for medical purposes:

If this doesn’t produce a solution they should see whether there is a public transport option or whether there is a local taxi firm which they could use.  If not then the local Community Transport Scheme might be able to help:

If none of these options is possible, people can contact their local Community Support Organisation and explain the situation.  The Community Support Organisation will check through what options have been explored and if there is no other solution they will be able to refer into the County Council for help. 

With regards to vaccinations for people who are unable to leave the house, there were previously issues with the Pfizer vaccine as this was difficult to transport to people’s homes because it needs to be kept at very low temperatures. Ruth H added that she would need to check the current situation as there may be issues with transporting partially used vials of the vaccine between different locations.

Kim noted that in Gateshead pharmacists are doing home visits to vaccinate people.

Ruth M was concerned about community transport not being wheelchair accessible and said that wheelchair-accessible taxis are not readily available in the Harrogate area. Richard will feed this back to the NHS. Shanna added that it was important to ensure that people know what wheelchair accessible community transport services are available, like the Happy Wanderers in Harrogate.

Richard said he will feedback to the NHS the forum’s concerns about the booking process being complicated. He explained that different vaccination hubs have different booking systems. Nick asked if it would be easier if there were a single, national system. Maggie said that she had tried to book online and it had failed but that telephone booking had worked well. Richard explained that the NHS had had to roll things out very quickly.

Ian contributed this point via email due to technical problems. He said that listening to recent conversations about vaccinations and travel certificates highlighted the need for one national database. He knows someone who works across multiple NHS Trust areas and they have to record patient information using different software packages which do not communicate with each other. Ian also questioned how it would work if vaccine passports are required to travel and how an immigration officer would be able to check if a passport is genuine? He said he felt a situation in which they had to access a person’s records via their CCG was unworkable.

  • Action: Ruth to find out what the situation is for people who require home visits for vaccinations.
  • Action: Richard to share with NHS concerns about complexity of booking process and availability of wheelchair accessible transport.
  1. Questions about accessible communications

Question from Ruth, CDF

Are the videos that go out from NYCC on social media ie Facebook and Twitter available with subtitles, especially now around important Coronavirus updates (although should routinely be available whatever the topic)?

If subtitles are available how do people access them/switch them on? If subtitles aren't available why not?

Response and Discussion

Richard explained that NYCC has a small Communications team who use the automatic subtitling provided by different platforms. Facebook and YouTube currently offer automatic subtitles and the Participation and Engagement team can provide information about how you can turn these on. Twitter have said they are developing automatic subtitling. Where the council put a video on Twitter they put a key quote from the video in the text of the tweet. They also provide information in different visual formats that are easy to understand.

Helen was concerned about misinformation circulating. She asked if it was possible for video to have subtitles in other languages. Richard said that he would need to double check about this. He added that there are resources in other languages on the North Yorkshire Partnerships website. He added that Bradford and Craven CCG have made videos about the vaccine in a range of languages.

Richard said they are also looking at creating myth-busting information in different languages and for different communities. Ruth H added that they are making sure that information goes out in different languages and formats in different areas.

Christopher said that he and some other self-advocates have made a video about how to keep safe when going back to day services. Richard said that they have been supporting day services to open up again where they can but there have been some challenges finding suitable venues in Craven area.

  • Action: Claire/Shanna will feed back people’s comments to the Communications team and ask about subtitling in other languages. They will share information about turning on subtitles.

Question from HDDF

What facilities are in place for the deaf and hard of hearing community if they need to book a COVID test? Has there been adequate training for all the response team, including helping people use BSL?

Response and Discussion

  • Action: Richard to ask the NHS what training people receive and will pass on the feedback provided by a member of the forum about their experiences.

Question from HDDF

For disabled key workers, their circumstances can change rapidly—one moment they are going in to work and the next they are told to shield. This means they have to make changes to the care they receive. Particularly for people who have difficulties reading and writing it can be confusing to navigate the various organisations offering help and be careful of scams. What are the local authority doing to support people who are classed as extremely vulnerable who are also key workers?

Response and Discussion

Richard said that, for people who struggle with reading and writing, he would advise people who need help to call the NYCC customer contact centre. The telephone number is 01609 780780. Shanna added that there is also an online contact form for people who need this:

Contact us - North Yorkshire County Council Customer Portal

Richard said that the advice for people who are shielding is different in this lockdown to the first lockdown and he understood how people could find it confusing.

[Reminder: for people who are Deaf, hearing or speech impaired, the national relay service exists to help with phone calls via a relay assistant: About Relay UK | Relay UK ( ]

  1. Question about visiting people in hospital

Question from Ricky,  HMHSU&CF

How does Covid-19 affect visiting people in hospitals? Very important with mental health for patients to see family and friends.

Response and Discussion

Richard asked if Claire could pull together information about different hospitals’ policies on visiting at present.

  • Action: Claire to compile and circulate information about hospital visiting policies.
  1. Question about recovery and help to ‘get back to normal’ post-Covid

Question from YCRDF

We are concerned about how disabled people have been impacted by services needing to prioritise responses to the pandemic, and the effect that this has had on access to other services. We are mindful of the pandemic’s longer term effects on people’s mental wellbeing and, in time, what help there will be for people to “get back to normal”, whatever that may look like. What funding will be available for voluntary and community organisations to support people who need help within our communities, with these longer term aspects of recovery from the pandemic?

Response and Discussion

Richard explained that NYCC have tried not to make changes to services. Where organisations have been impacted by national restrictions, NYCC have tried to go above and beyond to support organisations where possible. Stronger Communities have been supporting community groups across the county—there are around 4000 community groups across North Yorkshire.

  1. Questions about relationship between NYCC and NHS

Question from HDDF

What is the working relationship between the County Council and the CCG? We have had a query raised regarding this in relation to patient liaison groups.

Response and Discussion

Richard said that NYCC work closely with the NHS but that they are separate bodies. With regards to the GP practice patient engagement, practices have local discretion about how they do that and have different mechanisms for engaging people. The county council and the CCGs co-operate but they have separate decision-making and governance processes.

Question from CDF

Craven sits across two different Clinical Commissioning Groups and people use NHS services in a wide range of neighbouring areas, outside of North Yorkshire. Can you tell us more about how NYCC is working with different NHS partners to ensure people can access health services e.g. wheelchair spares?

Response and Discussion

Richard explained that they work closely with Bradford and Craven CCG and Bradford District Care Trust. He acknowledged that things can be more challenging for people who live in the Bentham area which is part of Morecambe Bay CCG. Within Health and Adult services there is a locality team specifically for Craven area, which recognises the particular circumstances of the area.

  • Action: Claire/Shanna to find out about wheelchair services.
  1. Other Questions

Question from CDF

Craven Disability Forum recently had a very positive meeting about disability sports. Lots of our members are from Skipton area and we would like to know more about the opportunities available in other parts of the district for disabled people to take part in sports and other activities to stay fit.

Response and Discussion

Richard said that North Yorkshire Sport have been doing lots to help people stay active such as sharing activity packs with people. Sport England have just released a new strategy

  1. Other experiences


Ruth M shared an experience of using home-testing recently. She was unable to return the home testing kit herself as she is shielding. She uses the Royal Mail parcel collection service but they cannot collect home-testing kits and she had not felt she could ask a neighbour as she did not want to expose them to risk. Ruth M had tried to ring the council’s customer service number but they had said they could not help.

Response and Discussion

Ruth H said that they would feed the information back about the customer contact centre. She advised that there would be very low risk to ask a neighbour, if you wash your hands after doing the test, put the parcel in a bag and leave it on your doorstep for your neighbour to pick up.

  • Action: Ruth H to feed the information back about the customer contact centre

Vaccination for people with a learning disability

Mark added that he had written to Matt Hancock and his local MP, as well as Boris Johnson, about when people with a learning disability will receive the coronavirus vaccine.