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PDA IN THE NEWS: Shattering the silence on hidden disabilities in pharmacy

Last month, PDA Director Paul Day, spoke on the Pharmaceutical Journal podcast ‘The PJ Pod’. During the interview, Paul explained what discrimination pharmacists with hidden disabilities can be exposed to, the importance of speaking up when mistreatment takes place, and what employers need to do to accommodate them.

Thu 27th May 2021 The PDA

Paul said: “The scale of discrimination includes not employing or promoting someone, not reemploying a locum, name-calling and failure to provide the reasonable adjustments that would accommodate the individual. If someone is being mistreated at work, it is unlikely that their work is going to be focused and of the best standard so the discrimination often makes things worse for all concerned.”

Unlike other forms of discrimination, Pharmacists may not know that their physical or mental health condition could be classified as a disability, and hence they may not even realise that they are being discriminated against.

Paul continued: “Last year we launched networks based on equality and one of those is the Ability Network, for pharmacists that have disabilities. It is striking to see that if the equality network is around gender, sexual orientation, or ethnicity, people will generally understand their own characteristics, where they fit in that and it will be an established part of their identity. However, 83% of people that have a disability acquire their condition(s) during their working life, and so even they may not recognise that what they have is a disability.”

The legal definition of disability can include conditions such as hearing loss, cancer, mental health conditions, autism, OCD, mobility, arthritis and many more. Many of these conditions are not immediately apparent to others and so may be considered hidden, or “non-visible”, disabilities.

Pharmacists with hidden disabilities may not always feel confident to have that conversation with their employer about their condition. However, for decades the Equality Act, and the Disability Discrimination Act which it replaced, has required employers to make what are known as ‘reasonable adjustments’ for their employees. The PDA can support members who are having difficulty obtaining the reasonable adjustments they need.

Paul concluded: “There is no hierarchy among protected characteristics, and we treat all forms of discrimination with equal concern. Fighting for equality is one of the foundations of the PDA’s work and we encourage members who believe they may be subject to discrimination to get in contact. Our Equality networks are also there to help us end institutionalised discrimination and make a positive change to proactively prevent further instances of mistreatment.”

The PDA is passionate about pharmacists understanding what their rights are in the workplace and help members perform to the best of their ability, including those who have a disability. To learn more about hidden disabilities in pharmacy, the full podcast episode can be found here. Paul’s contribution starts  11 minutes in.

Getting in touch

As a pharmacist and PDA member working with a disability, if you feel that you have experienced discrimination at work or whilst studying then please contact the PDA as soon as possible for advice and support by calling 0121 694 7000 or emailing There are processes and timelines for dealing with such matters and it is important to get early advice and guidance.

Join the PDA Ability Network

The Ability Network provides a structure through which members can work together to proactively address and campaign around disability discrimination and its causes and consequences. Membership is open to pharmacists with disabilities and those pharmacists who are allies and want to support the network.

Contact the Ability network:

All contact with the network will be treated in confidence and with sensitivity.













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