PRESS RELEASE: People with complex needs must be involved when deciding how to mitigate future impacts of Covid-19


The pandemic has prompted a substantial shift to remote access to work, education, and care. It prompted Healthwatch and public health officials in Camden to work together to document how this is affecting residents.

Many people reported benefits from the shift to ‘online’ as part of its project – Life in Lockdown. However, Healthwatch also found that remote access to health and care services works better for some people than for others. People with complex needs and mental health conditions reported serious dissatisfaction with some alternative online and telephone health services put in place during the Covid-19 pandemic.

One participant with a mental health condition commented that:

“There’s been Zoom groups and telephone calls to replace mental health day services but they’re only twice a week and it’s too hard to keep well, worse than normal much worse.”


A mother of a child with disabilities said:

“For children with severe disabilities, video or phone consultations cannot replace face to face ones.”


Healthwatch were also contacted by a d/Deaf patient who pointed out that a call back from a GP is no good if you cannot hear the phone ring. 

“When I needed to see my GP, I was not able to reach because the notice on GP door advised me to phone. How do I phone when I am deaf?”


The project – thought to be one of the largest of its kind in Camden – involved over 1,500 people contributing their views on the impact of the pandemic.

In response to the report, the CEO of Camden Disability Action – a user-led organisation for deaf and disabled people – Colin Brummage added:

“We know that Disabled people have been disproportionally impacted through the pandemic.”

“This report adds weight to this and further highlights the need for the health and social care sector to work more closely with Disabled people and organisations run by Disabled people, to ensure we are involved in, and leading on, both the second wave response and the recovery planning”

Commenting on publication of the report, Matthew Parris, Director of Healthwatch Camden, said:

“The findings of this report emphasise and illustrate the different ways in which the pandemic is affecting people. For example, people with disabilities are more likely to report concerns about being lonely and isolated, and there is clearly a heightened concern among Asian communities about catching the virus.”

“The extent and breadth of concerns reported by younger people is also a cause for concern and should be considered and explored further by those overseeing mental health services.”

“NHS and social care workers have made a heroic effort in trying to keep us safe during the pandemic and their efforts have ensured that many people continue to have a positive experience when accessing services.”

The findings of the report have been shared with Camden’s Health & Wellbeing Board and Camden Council’s inquiry into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on BAME communities.

Mr Parris continued:

“What became apparent in the early phases of the project was the profound impact the pandemic is having on all lives and particularly on emotional wellbeing. However, it’s also the case that there are communities which are having a tougher experience than others.”

“Moving forward, we need to be particularly alert to the needs of people with disabilities, mental health conditions and communication support needs. Their voice must be included in future decision making.”

The final report Life in Lockdown will inform how health and care services communicate effectively with residents, mitigate the risks posed by Covid-19, and provide services during the pandemic.

You can find the full report, and a summary, here:


Notes to editors

  1. Healthwatch is the independent watchdog created to gather and represent the views of the public. Healthwatch plays a role at both national and local level to ensure that the views of people that use services are taken into account. It provides a collective voice for health and social care users in Camden.
  1. Healthwatch Camden has a seat on the Camden Health and Wellbeing Board and can alert Healthwatch England and the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to concerns about services.
  1. Local Healthwatch functions and powers are set out in the Health and Social Care Act 2012. This includes the power to refer its concerns to the local Health Overview and Scrutiny Committee.
  1. For more information contact: 07939 315580, email: