Disable inequality: challenging disability discrimination in the NHS

Disable Inequality

It is time for a serious conversation about the experiences of disabled workers in the NHS. Our ‘Disable Inequality’ campaign is equipping branches to get active and challenge disability discrimination.

We want to help staff recognise and challenge disability discrimination in the workplace. We will support staff and help them support each other as we work together to take on disability discrimination and deliver an NHS that respects and values all staff.

We will not stand by while disabled staff in the NHS continue to face inequality at work. Discrimination on the basis of disability is not only wrong – it is against the law. It wastes talent, damages staff, hurts patients, and holds the NHS back.

What are the issues?

The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) requires all NHS Trusts in England to report data on the workplace experience of disabled workers. Although WDES applies in England only, we know that the experience of disabled workers in other devolved administrations would be similar. Key areas of concern flagged in the latest WDES report are:

  • Only 3.5% of NHS staff identify as disabled on the NHS formal record system but in the Staff Survey 19% identified as disabled. This may be because staff do not feel able to tell the NHS they are disabled due to stigma and discrimination.
  • Non-disabled job applicants were 1.2 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting.
  • Disabled staff were 1.54 times more likely to enter the formal performance management capability process.
  • 3% of Disabled staff reported harassment, bullying or abuse, compared to 18.5% of non-disabled staff.
  • 1% of Disabled staff said they felt valued, compared to 50.4% of non-disabled staff.

What you can do

Don’t suffer in silence – if you experience any form of discrimination then talk to your UNISON branch about what’s been happening

What branches can do

  • Negotiate reasonable adjustment passports and disability leave policies as a way of improving outcomes for disabled workers
  • In England, ask your Trust for the WDES data and how UNISON are going to be involved in delivering the action plan (more ideas in the WDES information sheet). Devolved administrations can ask employers for relevant data and how they can work with employers to improve outcomes for disabled workers. Latest WDES report is available here.
  • Ask your employer to sign up to UNISON’s Disable Inequality pledge
  • Ask your employer to sign up to the Disability Charter – UNISON is a founding member.
  • Keep us updated on any case studies that demonstrate wins for disabled workers – no matter how small so that we can grow this campaign