Disabled people 'failed' over lack of fully-accessible toilets

Disabled people across Scotland and the rest of the UK are being let down by a lack of fully-accessible toilets, new figures reveal.
Charities warned that the shortage of facilities is 'failing disabled people'.Charities warned that the shortage of facilities is 'failing disabled people'.
Charities warned that the shortage of facilities is 'failing disabled people'.

Charity Muscular Dystrophy UK has warned that a shortage of facilities is "failing disabled people".

Disabled toilets with a changing bench, hoist, privacy screen and space for two carers are the only facilities that qualify as fully-accessible Changing Places, according to Government policy.

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Though residents in Scotland have the best access, with 3.6 toilets per 100,000 people, while London has less than one per 100,000.

Muscular Dystrophy UK figures show that 1,324 toilets in the UK meet these criteria, equivalent to just two per 100,000 population.

Access varies considerably across the country, with London falling well behind.

Just over a third of the accessible facilities in the UK are in public buildings, such as community centres, churches and leisure centres.

A further 15 per cent are at attractions, such as theatres, libraries, concert halls and museums, with 14 per cent in shops, shopping centres and supermarkets.

However, just 18 pubs, restaurants and cafes in the country have a Changing Places toilet, and less than 1 per cent of railway stations have fully-accessible facilities.

In addition, some areas are more than 20 miles away from an accessible toilet, with Muscular Dystrophy UK raising concerns about the geographical spread of facilities.

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Bristol has just one Changing Places toilet for a population of more than 450,000 people, while Edinburgh's half a million residents also have only one between them.

Clare Lucas, head of policy and campaigns at the charity, said: "Everyone deserves to use the toilet safely and with dignity, more than a quarter of a million disabled people who need assistance to use the toilet are being excluded from society because there aren't enough Changing Places.

"Without enough of these vital facilities, people are being forced to cut trips short, stay at home, or even consider options as extreme as surgery.

"Going to the toilet is a basic human right, but too many disabled people are being denied this."

Charity Disability Rights UK added that the majority of standard disabled toilets are not fitted with adequate support equipment.

Chief executive Kamran Mallick said: "Standard toilets are designed to provide sufficient space and other facilities such as grab handles.

"Changing Places go further, with additional equipment, such as height-adjustable changing benches and overhead hoist systems."

According to Muscular Dystrophy UK, there have been positive developments in the campaign for fully-accessible toilets over the last 12 months.

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