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Nurses with disabilities are ‘being let down’ by NHS employers

Disability advocate Bethann Siviter responds to report showing almost a quarter of staff are being denied workplace adjustments to support their needs

Disability advocate Bethann Siviter responds to report showing almost a quarter of staff are being denied workplace adjustments to support their needs

Nurses with disabilities are being ‘let down’ by employers who are failing to provide reasonable adjustments at work, a campaigner has said.

A Workforce Disability Equality Standard report , published by NHS England, shows that nearly a quarter – 23.4% – of staff with disabilities are being denied workplace adjustments to support their day-to-day needs.

We are wasting

Disability advocate Bethann Siviter responds to report showing almost a quarter of staff are being denied workplace adjustments to support their needs

Nurse Bethann Siviter. Picture: Tim George

Nurses with disabilities are being ‘let down’ by employers who are failing to provide reasonable adjustments at work, a campaigner has said.

A Workforce Disability Equality Standard report, published by NHS England, shows that nearly a quarter – 23.4% – of staff with disabilities are being denied workplace adjustments to support their day-to-day needs.

We are wasting talented nurses who are not working, campaigner says

Although the figures gathered in 2021 are a 2.8% improvement on the previous year, nurse and disability advocate Bethann Siviter, who herself has a disability, said: ‘Nurses with disabilities are being let down across a number of different streams.

‘How can we be a genuinely inclusive health service when we aren’t even inclusive to each other?

‘If you look at the number of nurses who have a disability that aren’t currently working, there are thousands of potential nurses that are not being used.

‘There needs to be access to advanced training and education so nurses with disabilities who are currently off can get access to other jobs in the workforce.’

Lack of staff with disabilities in senior roles

The report also reveals that 59% of NHS trusts in England have five or fewer staff with disabilities in senior positions – bands 8a and above – including medical consultants and board members.

It recommends that trusts introduce workplace adjustments passports, which enable staff to record and share the details of the reasonable adjustments they need at work.

Ms Siviter said the NHS needs to improve its recognition that people with disabilities are assets to the workforce.

She added: ‘Just how we would actively encourage nurses from different ethic minority backgrounds into nursing because it gives us better insight and understanding of our patients, we should be doing the same when it comes to disability. Being disabled makes me a better nurse.’

Managers must do more to support nurses with disabilities, RCN says

RCN England director Patricia Marquis said employers need to take a different approach to disability to avoid situations where reasonable adjustments are not made.

‘It is vital that managers know what options are available – such as working from home, compressed hours and the right equipment – to enable staff with disabilities to do their jobs effectively,’ she added.

NHS acting chief people officer Em Wilkinson-Brice said that ‘all our NHS people need to be treated fairly’ and that there was ‘still more to do’.


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