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NHS Employers Disability Summit 2023

PDA member and pharmacist clinical writer, Sandra Hicks attended the virtual NHS Employers Disability Summit 2023 from 29 to 30 November 2023. The annual Disability Summit provided an opportunity for those working in the healthcare sector to lead the change and tackle inequality in the workplace. Sandra has reflected on her experience of the summit and what she learned while there.

Wed 24th January 2024 The PDA

I attended the NHS Employers Disability Summit 2023 which shared insights on increasing workforce representation at senior levels and the business case for supporting disabled staff in the workplace. I found it striking how each presenter made the effort to introduce themselves by name, job role, and with a description of themselves, including what they were wearing for partially sighted people to identify them more easily.

Day 1

Keynote sessions started with Steve Brine, MP, speaking about the NHS Long Term Workforce Plan relating to inclusion. Steve also spoke on recruitment and retention of disabled and neurodiverse talent in the NHS.

Baroness Tanni Grey-Thompson, gave her perspective as a Paralympian and House of Lords Crossbench Peer, on Access-to-Work and the Disability Confident Scheme. She spoke about her personal experiences growing up and some of the horrendous things said to her.

Tanni also mentioned that so often disabled people get told they can’t do things. In her opinion, we’re in a better position since the Covid-19 pandemic as there are more opportunities to work from home. She felt that the pay gap means that a disabled person needs at least a masters to get a job, whereas a non-disabled person just needs a degree as employers think we’ll cost more to employ. The Guaranteed Interview scheme can just be a tick-box exercise for those who aren’t disability-positive employers.

I learned about the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES), which is a set of ten specific metrics enabling NHS organisations to compare workplace and career experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. NHS organisations use the metrics data to develop and publish an action plan building on high-impact actions shared in the first-ever Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion (EDI) improvement plan.

Year-on-year comparison enables NHS organisations to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality to create a culture of belonging and trust that will improve retention and recruitment from the widest possible talent pool and provide sustainable careers.

Day 2

On day 2, keynote speaker Libby Clegg, Paralympic sprinter, tandem track cyclist, and Dancing on Ice finalist spoke about sight loss, her incredible sporting journey, and the importance of teamwork.

Dr Navina Evans, Chief Workforce Training and Education Officer at NHS England gave an inspiring closing speech. She shared that providing interview questions to all candidates prior to the interview date itself enabled applicants with neurodivergence to participate on an equitable basis rather than being disadvantaged by the stressful situation of providing in-depth answers to competency-based questions.

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