Concern has been expressed by human rights and disability groups over how young people with disabilities will be dealt with, should intensive care unit resources have to be rationed.

In the Department of Health's guidance document, 'Ethical Framework for Decision Making in a Pandemic', healthcare professionals are advised on deciding how ICU resources should be rationed.

An accompanying document, 'Ethical Considerations Relating to Critical Care in the Context of Covid-19', has also been published. 

However, there are concerns that neither document explicitly states that long-term, stable disabilities will be disregarded when deciding if a person is frail. 

The issue was raised by Dublin parent Tom Clonan, whose 18-year-old son Eoghan has neuromuscular disease and has compromised lung function.

Speaking on RTÉ's Morning Ireland, he said the guidance was "out of step with international best practice".

Mr Clonan believes that currently, "there is no guarantee for people with disabilities that they will not be rationed care on the basis of disability. For example, things like Down syndrome, autism, cerebral palsy. What I'm looking for is just a simple one line amendment, or addendum to that document to give us that reassurance".

Enable Ireland, which provides services to over 8,500 people living with disabilities, has echoed calls for clarification on the matter.

The charity's CEO John O'Sullivan believes explicit reference to disabilities "would strengthen the framework" and is "very much in keeping with the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities, which we have been seeking to see fully implemented for some time now".

The Irish Council for Civil Liberties has also said that clarification on the matter would be helpful, adding that it is essential that the human rights of people with disabilities are protected.

In a statement, the Department of Health said that in the accompanying document, 'Ethical Considerations Relating to Critical Care in the Context of Covid-19', it is stated that "decisions should not be made in a way that would result in unfair discrimination and emphasises that no single factor should be taken, in isolation", when deciding how scarce resources are allocated.

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