Focus on Disability


15 / 9 / 2014 12.07pm

This month we wanted to highlight the key role that disability plays in the lives of staff employed by the NHS. We have included some key facts, good practice examples, as well as details of where you can find further information, guidance, advice and support.  

Over the last decade we have seen the NHS becoming more disability and diversity confident as well as disabled people becoming more comfortable about expressing their needs at work. For the NHS to become the employers of choice for talented disabled people, organisations need to demonstrate a good track record in accommodating the needs of disabled employees in more sophisticated ways.

Key facts, figures and information

  • There are over 11 million people with a limiting long term illness, impairment or disability (Family Resources Survey 2011/12).
  • The most commonly-reported impairments are those that affect mobility, lifting or carrying (Family Resources Survey 2011/12).
  • The prevalence of disability rises with age. Around 6% of children are disabled, compared to 16% of working age adults and 45% of adults over State Pension age (Family Resources Survey 2010/11).
  • According to the Labour Force Survey, disabled people are now more likely to be employed than they were in 2002, but disabled people remain significantly less likely to be in employment than non-disabled people. In 2012, 46.3% of working-age disabled people are in employment compared to 76.4% of working-age non-disabled people. There is therefore a 30.1 percentage point gap between disabled and non-disabled people, representing over 2 million people. The gap has reduced by 10 percentage points over the last 14 years and has remained stable over the last two years despite the economic climate (Labour Force Survey, Quarter 2, 2012).
  • Around a fifth of disabled people report having difficulties related to their impairment or disability in accessing transport (ONS Opinions Survey 2011).
  • Disabled people are significantly more likely to experience unfair treatment at work than non-disabled people. In 2008, 19% of disabled people experienced unfair treatment at work compared to 13% of non-disabled people   (Fair Treatment at Work Survey 2008).
  • There are currently 1.3 million disabled people in the UK who are available for and want to work (Office for National Statistics - Labour Force Survey, Jan - March 2009).

Tips and examples of good practice

Further guidance, advice and support:

  • For the latest advice and guidance on ‘workplace adjustments’ visit the EHRC website
  • NHS England is currently developing a framework of requirements and recommendations so that disabled patients, service users and carers receive information in formats they can understand and communication support if they need it. A consultation on the draft standard is now open and runs until 9 November 2014. 
  • The government wants to put disabled people and their organisations at the heart of developing and implementing change. ‘Fulfilling Potential: making it happen’ is the government’s disability strategy that was published in September 2014.
  • The Health and Safety Executive provides a comprehensive overview of guidance on the law in relation to disability, equality at work and health and safety risk.

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