How we can help those with disabilities speak up | #TeamBartsHealth blogs

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How we can help those with disabilities speak up

International Day of Persons With Disabilities exists to raise awareness of the barriers that people with disabilities face – whether that’s in the workplace, our communities, or in having access to suitable healthcare provisions.

To mark this campaign, Mary Walsh from The Guardian Service outlines how Barts Health can ensure that speaking up isn’t a barrier for people with disabilities to progress their careers.

The NHS is naturally focussed on optimum health for all.

Some people with a disability are perfectly healthy. Others manage a long-term condition that they’ve had since they were young or have acquired later in life. Some of those who have a disability, as defined by the Equality Act, may be quite unaware and others actively reject such a label.

So…. who are we talking about and why should we care?

Disabled people:

  • There are 13.9 million disabled people in the UK.
  • One in five of us will be affected by disability at some point in our lives.
  • A quarter of employers say they would be less likely to employ someone with a disability.
  • 66 per cent of employers say the costs of workplace adjustments are a barrier to employing a disabled person.     

The reputation of Bart’s Health as an employer is vital to attract the most talented people to apply for roles. Disabled people will certainly be amongst those most talented individuals.

Barriers faced by disabled staff include:

  • Coming to terms with managing a condition and finding oneself after acquiring a disability or long-term condition.
  • Lack of trust with line manager or colleagues. Will confidentiality be guaranteed? Will being honest about a long-term condition result in discrimination?
  • Poor perceptions of disabled people as employees.
  • Lack of knowledge around what ‘reasonable adjustments’ might be effective and possible within a particular workplace.
  • Lack of camaraderie or solidarity with a disabled person, making them feel alone in fighting their corner.
  • Having a valued relationship with a good line manager and fearing a new position will not offer them the same level of support.

Adjustments to a working environment can usually be made if the manager asks what would be helpful and the individual can answer truthfully, without feeling the need to hide or pretend. Most adjustments don’t cost anything at all.

Did you know that a government fund called Access to Work can pay 100 per cent of costs if applied for in the first six weeks of an individual’s employment and can fund eligible costs up to £59,200?

The BartsAbility Passport is best practice among employers who value the contribution of their people. This is designed for a conversation between manager and staff member to document what is required to achieve optimum performance.

Honest and open conversations are crucial at the recruitment and on-boarding stage – being able to speak up and listen on both sides should be encouraged.

Open conversations without fear or favour are what the values of the Trust promote.

The Guardian Service is an independent and confidential service originally established to support NHS employees at all levels and in all roles. It is here for you to discuss any concern or issue you may have relating to patient care, patient safety or work related concerns.

If you need to talk to The Guardian Service, please get in touch on 0333 003 2241 or


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