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27.09.16

NHS to introduce new equality standard for disabled staff

NHS employers will be required to assess whether disabled staff face discrimination from 2018, under new plans announced by NHS England.

The body said it has agreed with the NHS Equality and Diversity Council to mandate a Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) via the NHS Standard Contract in England from April 2018, following a preparatory year from April 2017.

A 2015 report from the universities of Middlesex and Bedfordshire found that 17% of NHS staff describe themselves as disabled.

But disabled staff were 12 percentage points more likely to say they felt bullied by their manager, 11 points more likely to say they felt pressured to work when unwell, and 8 points less likely to say their organisation acted fairly with regards to career progression.

In addition, 14% of staff said their employer did not make reasonable adjustments to accommodate their disability. This rose to 41% at some trusts, and black and minority ethnic (BME) disabled staff were more likely to suffer from a lack of accommodation than white staff.

Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England and co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council, said: “We’re committed to tackling inequality in the workplace wherever we find it. The new Workforce Disability Equality Standard will help the NHS fully realise the huge potential of all of our staff, and ensure their individual experiences contribute to improving care for patients.”

NHS England has already introduced a Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), which was used to lead research finding that BME staff at 75% of all acute trusts reported higher rates of bullying, harassment and abuse from colleagues than white staff.

Joan Saddler, co-chair of the Equality and Diversity Council, said implementing the WRES had shown that “multi-faceted actions” were needed to tackle discrimination.

“Learning from the WRES approach must be integrated into the introduction of the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES),” she added.

‘Different Voices, Different Choices’, a report from NHS Employers and Disability Rights UK, said that NHS England should review its long-term support for disabled staff and consider adopting a ‘disability passport’ to specify what accommodations each staff member needs.

Liz Sayce, chief executive of Disability Rights UK, said: “For the NHS, employing people with lived experience of disability or long-term health conditions is a major asset: these staff can draw on their own experiences to show understanding, empathy and role modelling to people using services: people who have recently acquired health conditions or injuries often feel discouraged, and meeting health professionals with their own lived experience makes a significant difference.”

Ruth Passman, head of equality and health inequalities at NHS England, said: “This positive step forward for disabled people working in the NHS in England signals widespread recognition amongst NHS system leaders of the significant contribution that disabled staff make to workforce equality and to patient care.”

NHS England is planning to hold consultation workshops on the draft WDES in London, Taunton, Manchester, Leeds, Birmingham and Leicester.

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Comments

Joanne Allard   17/03/2017 at 22:46

I worked as a Patient Transport Services driver/escort for the NHS for 11years, when I got an injury to my back and went off sick, after 7months of being subject to the sickness absence policy, I was dismissed on the grounds of capability, the disability for the bus procedure was never reffered to even though I stated I was disabled, my job was my passion and my whole life has been destroyed because of the ignorance of supposedly caring professionals!

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