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NHS must do more to support disabled doctors

Consultation to make NHS more accessible for disabled clinicians

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 05 July 2018

The NHS should make more effort to ensure that disabled doctors are supported to fulfil their potential at work, according to regulator the General Medical Council (GMC).

The GMC has just launched a consultation on new guidance called Welcomed and valued, which advises medical educators and employers on what they can do to ensure all students and doctors, including those with disabilities, have the right environments in which to work and progress.

UK health services could be missing out because doctors with disabilities and health issues do not always receive the support they need to fulfil their potential, said the regulator.

Data from medical schools shows there are around 3,700 medical students with a declared disability, which is 9% of the medical student population in the UK.

There are less data available for doctors, but 1% of doctors in training completing the GMC’s annual national training survey declared a disability, while 9% of newly-registered doctors over a period of 18 months declared a disability.

The GMC said this showed there were many medical students and doctors with a long-term health condition or disability so it was essential that policies were in place to support these individuals throughout their careers.

It said it was working with doctors’ representatives and organisations responsible for delivering teaching and training to develop advice on how best to support disabled doctors.

Professor Colin Melville, GMC director of education and standards, said: “A diverse medical workforce is important as it reflects and better understands the population it treats and cares for.

“Doctors with health conditions and disabilities have a lot to offer, and at a time when the country needs all the medical staff it can get, it’s unacceptable for unnecessary barriers to be placed in the way of those who want to become our future doctors.

“In order for this to happen, it is vital that those who are beginning their medical education, as well as doctors in training, are given the help and flexible support they need from those delivering their education and training.

“It is a complex area, and we have drafted our guidance in collaboration with experts, including disabled medical students and doctors who have told us about the hurdles they had to overcome to pursue their careers.

“This consultation will help us finalise the guidance, which will outline the practical support medical education and training providers can offer to ensure all doctors, regardless of disability, are welcomed and valued, and given the tools and flexibility they need to succeed.”

The consultation closes on 20 September 2018.

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