Today the BBC has published comparative figures from the Care Quality Commission which examine deaths in care settings where autistic people and people with learning disabilities live. These figures suggest a large increase in deaths compared to the same period last year. Our Director of Science Dr James Cusack explains why these figures may not be clear, and what the Government should do now.

Dr James Cusack explains:

"The data shows a worryingly large jump in deaths compared to last year, more than double the increase we have seen across the whole population and higher than the increase seen across all care homes. But we can’t tell which of these tragic deaths were in autistic people and which were in other vulnerable groups.

Because the figures today don’t tell us what we need to know, we have far more questions than answers right now. We still don't know how many autistic people have died in social care settings. We still don’t know whether autistic people are at higher risk of dying than other vulnerable groups. And we still don’t know whether all autistic people in care homes are being given the right supports to keep them safe.

We know that work is underway to address this and we urge policymakers and politicians to urgently address the data gap and ensure autistic people are not once again abandoned, neglected and forgotten. Today, it is clear, in the absence of better data, that we must urgently ensure that the well-established risks to autistic people in social care are directly addressed."

We will continue to work with the NHS to understand the impact the coronavirus is having on autistic people and ensure our community's get the support they need.