2017 Disability summit


To conclude Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week 2017, over a hundred delegates from organisations across the NHS gathered in our Horizon Leeds venue for the 2017 Disability Summit.

Why have a disability summit?

The need for a second disability summit was prompted by activity over the past two years, including the proposed introduction of the mandatory workforce disability equality standard (WDES) in March 2018 and the ambition of the NHS and social sector to make real the idea of disability being seen as an asset. In addition the government green paper published in October 2016, included an explicit aim to halve the current employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people. 

The day itself

Delegates were treated to Jaspreet Kaur (@behindthenetra), an award winning spoken word artist opening the summit with an inspiring spoken word piece on disability, stigma and society.

During the morning keynote speakers presented on:

The morning ended with a lively panel session with delegates posting questions via Sli.do and face to face with panel members Dr Leander Neckles, Fiona Aldridge, Mark Capper, Kate Nash and Paul Deemer. 

In the afternoon delegates attended one of three workshops.

  1. Making it happen, halving the disabled employment gap led by Fiona Aldridge, Assistant Director Research & Development of Learning and Work Institute
  2. Changing attitudes towards disabled people’s access to employment led by Mark Capper, Head of Employer Engagement, Mencap
  3. Let’s make it happen through disabled staff networks: sharing industry expertise led by Kate Nash, Creator and CEO, PurpleSpace

Key discussion points arising from the workshops included:

  • the need for a real commitment from NHS leaders to bridge the employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people
  • NHS Jobs and NHS England to create an easy read application form
  • NHS England and NHS Employers to share good practice on disability in the workplace
  • employers to do more to support placements for disabled people - matching aspirations to learning skills
  • the importance of linking the work of diversity leads with the work of the Leadership Academy 
  • everyone to work to change attitudes towards disabled people
  • an acknowledgement of the energy in the room, the willingness to learn and to share experiences
  • recognition of the professionalisation of the diversity and inclusion function - driven by the need to increase flexible working and volunteering opportunities and engagement within organisations. Linked to this, the move by the Chartered Institute for Personnel and Development to take a more human approach to human resources
  • the critical importance of improving recruitment processes generally for disabled people - and recognition that traditional recruitment practices don't work for all groups, particularly for learning disability recruitment
  • the need for everyone to take action! (emphasised by the reference to diversity champion, the late Aidan Halligan)
  • the critical role of networks, for them to be both well organised and planned, but also curious
  • finally, the need for disabled staff to offer their knowledge to non-disabled leaders and managers to help them learn

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive, NHS Confederation closed the day encouraging delegates to keep challenging their organisations on all of the issues highlighted above.

In an initial evaluation of the summit delegates scored over 4.5 out of 5 on a range of measures including the organisation and accessibility of the venue; content of presentation and workshops; and meeting their objectives in attending the event. The possibility of another disability summit in London, later this year is being discussed.

A full transcript of the summit is available by emailing diversityandinclusion@nhsemployers.org.

Find out more about what NHS England and NHS Employers are doing to support employers in the NHS to recruit more people with learning disabilities.

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