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People with disabilities could make excellent nurses

I am not employed by the NHS, I am a mental health student nurse. I also have Dyslexia and a physical disability. 

Nationally, there is a dearth of nurses in the NHS with physical disabilities. This is underreported in academic journals and so it is left to a minority of students and nurses with disabilities to advocate for ourselves. I have had to do this on several occasions when staff have questioned my ability due to my disability.

In terms of fitness to practice, if reasonable adjustments are made, like they have been for me, nurses with disabilities have much to offer patients in terms of being able to link lived-experience to patients’ needs. For example, my skills lie within my ability to communicate in such a way that I can deescalate situations. This is aided by the fact that patients may relate more to me due to having a visible disability.

Initiavities for helping people with disabilities back into work, for those who feel able, are positive. It gives us a sense of purpose and we have much to offer our patients.

May I please ask that government recruitment drives into nursing actively promote the inclusion of people with diabilities. We are represented in paralypmics games, we climb mountains and race motor cars, to name a few. It is long overdue that we are permitted to become nurses.

Thank you,





What would you like to happen to make you feel more included and valued at work?

I would like to see a national drive to recruit nurses with a broad range of disabilities.

edited on Nov 5, 2018 by Isabel DHSC

(Account removed) 7 months ago

Hi Alan, you raise some great points. What kind of campaign would you like to see? Are there any organisations who have highlighted the opportunities available within the NHS for people living with a disability?

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Alan Roy 7 months ago

Hi Amy,

Thank you for your reply.

Our NHS Trust has developed a peer support network that values the lived-experiences of people in the delivery of care at various levels to suit specific needs. This works very well, as under parity of esteem it naturally includes people with protected characteristics under the Equality Act 2010 because a person’s mental health can be affected by physical disability.

Local NHS Trusts do great work but in my opinion we need more reach to change mindsets about ‘dis—ability’. I would very much appreciate a national campaign aimed at supporting people with disabilities into nursing. It would celebrate what people with disabilities can do well together.

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Paul Deemer 7 months ago

Alan - your post was like music to my ears! I am the Head of Diversity at NHS Employers and for the last year I have been working with NHS England, disabled staff networks across the NHS, trades unions and a range of other stakeholders to develop the (soon to be launched) Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES). And the reason we have developed the WDES - and why it is so necessary - is exactly for the reasons you outline above. Please follow / contact me on Twitter at @NHSE_Paul and I can update you more as we get closer to launching the WDES. Here's an article I wrote on this subject yesterday: Please keep on keeping on!

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Alan Roy 7 months ago

Hi Paul,

Thank you for your kind comments and for developing the Workforce Disability Equality Standard. I enjoyed reading your article. I too was born in the 1960s and went to school in the 1970s. Forty years on and I now know that issues become far less disabling when reasonable adjustments are made for both ‘hidden’ and physical disabilities. I hope that there can be common cause for inclusion with groups that the NHS already supports under the Equality Act 2010. It can be difficult advocating for oneself when there are no disability allies in practice.

In terms of developing an open culture, it would be great if there could be a recruitment drive within the NHS to train and employ more nurses with disabilities.

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(Account removed) 7 months ago

Hi Alan, Paul has posted in challenge 6 about the framework, it'd be great to hear your views on what could be done to make it more widely known about.

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