Barriers for disabled staff in the health service need to be lowered

Reasonable adjustments for healthcare students on clinical placements, accessibility passports, and disability and carers’ leave all discussed at health conference

Annette Heslop speaking at health conference

Annette Heslop (pictured above) for the nursing and midwifery occupational group moved a motion on ensuring reasonable adjustments for healthcare students on clinical placements.

Equality law gives disabled workers the right to reasonable adjustments where they experience substantial disadvantage. However, as students are not classed as employees, some struggle on clinical placements to access reasonable adjustments.

Ms Heslop said that, in such a situation, it was no surprise that students dropped out. “We must ensure that all students are supported on their placements,” she concluded.

In a related motion, the national disabled members’ committee raised the issue of “making accessibility passports work in the health sector”.

An NHS disability survey has revealed that 28% of disabled workers in the NHS in England still aren’t getting the reasonable adjustments they should be entitled to in order to break down the barriers they face in the workplace.

UNISON’s accessibility passports ensure that reasonable adjustments don’t need to be renegotiated every time an employee moves in the workplace.

Conference backed the motion, though as one speaker put it: “We need to move away from the use of language of ‘reasonable adjustments’ – they’re essential adjustments”.

The final motion in this tranche around disabled members’ issues, was also from the national disabled members’ committee, and called on the service group executive to help in “asserting our rights to disability and carers’ leave”.’