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​How the coronavirus lockdown rules differ for those with significant health conditions

Healthcare solicitor Kriya Amin discusses the challenges posed by the lockdown rules for those with significant health conditions

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Kriya Amin is a solicitor and is currently assisting Emmalene Bushnell in the firm's clinical negligence department.
We are living in very difficult and uncertain times. The coronavirus pandemic has affected each of us in some way and as we adjust to the ‘new normal’ during this period of lockdown this has inevitably caused many people anxiety and distress.
 
On 23 March 2020, the Prime Minister announced that all citizens were only allowed to leave their home or place of residence for exercise once a day.
 
This has been difficult for many but especially for those individuals suffering from significant medical conditions or mental health conditions such as cerebral palsy, autism or other learning disabilities who require specific exercise outdoors more than once a day as part of their treatment.
 
Two families of children with autism challenged the restrictions imposed by way of judicial review, arguing that adults and children suffering with health and developmental delay conditions were disproportionally impacted by this inflexible policy, which only allowed them to leave their home once a day.
 
Following this legal challenge, the government changed their guidance on 8 April 2020 which now states:
 
“You can leave your home for medical need. If you (or a person in your care) have a specific health condition that requires you to leave the home to maintain your health – including if that involves travel beyond your local area – then you can do so. This could, for example, include where individuals with learning disabilities or autism require specific exercise in an open space two or three times each day – ideally in line with a care plan agreed with a medical professional.”
 
This is, of course, coupled with the same social distancing measures in place to maintain protection of not only those children and adults but also the wider public. 
 
These changes have made a positive difference to the well-being of children and adults with significant medical conditions.
 
It is important that all adults and children receive the physical and emotional support they need during this difficult time, especially those with significant medical conditions who may suffer a decline in their health and wellbeing as a result of the lockdown/social distancing measures.
 
In the UK today there are around half a million children and young people with brain conditions that result in complex medical, educational and social support needs.
 
Leigh Day is pleased to support the work of the charity, Cerebra, which supports and works with families who are living with a child with a brain condition.
 
The advice that they offer will be especially useful to such families facing the particular challenges described during the pandemic lockdown.

Cerebra’s research work across neurodevelopmental conditions provides them with a unique perspective allowing them to provide research-driven solutions and advice to those who need it most.
 
Cerebra also offers various guides, factsheets and other resources providing comprehensive and current information on a wide variety of issues – physical, social and legal – that parents and carers of children with brain conditions may be facing. Some of their available services include a Sleep Advice Service, the Cerebra Innovation Centre, a book and toy library and an innovative problem-solving project.

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