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First NHS provider to gain top rating in accreditation scheme for supporting staff with disabilities

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Scotland’s national centre for heart and lung services has become the first NHS board in the country to achieve the highest level of a government-backed scheme to boost support for disabled staff.

The Golden Jubilee Foundation took steps including revising recruitment procedures and offering extra support to staff with disabilities to achieve the status of “disability confident leader”.

“The Golden Jubilee has a proven track record of valuing the diversity of all of our staff”

Jill Young

The status is the top level of the Department of Work and Pensions’ Disability Confident scheme, which was launched in 2013 with the aim of improving work opportunities for disabled people.

The achievement comes amid ongoing concern across the NHS – as revealed yesterday by Nursing Times. Our investigation found nursing staff with disabilities often faced discrimination and were more likely to report bullying and lack of career progression.

In England this has prompted the introduction of a new Workforce Disability Equality Standard that is due to be finalised this autumn. It will see trusts gather key performance data to inform local action plans to improve practice.

Signing up to the government-accredited Disability Confident scheme is one step recommended to trusts by NHS Employers, which represents NHS organisations in England.

The scheme has three levels of accreditation starting with “disability confident committed”. Organisations can then work towards becoming a “disability confident employer”, which requires them to demonstrate they are taking positive action to recruit and retain disabled people.

“We are encouraging and supporting other employers to continue on their ‘disability confident’ journey”

Jill Young

The top level is “disability confident leader” for organisations that go on to support others to address disability equality issues.

The foundation, which runs the Golden Jubilee National Hospital – also a centre of excellence for orthopaedics – achieved the second level a year ago and has since gone on to gain the top one.

This has involved introducing new measure such as specific training for HR staff and providing mentoring, coaching and “buddying” schemes for staff with disabilities.

The organisation said it also now takes a flexible approach when assessing disabled job applicants and works closely with local employment organisations and disability support groups.

Golden Jubilee Foundation

Jill Young

Jill Young

Meanwhile, it is working with suppliers and other partners to encourage them to embark on the Disability Confident scheme.

Its chief executive, Jill Young, said that the Golden Jubilee Foundation was keen to provide more opportunities for people with disabilities to join its workforce.

“The Golden Jubilee has a proven track record of valuing the diversity of all of our staff and has put in place a range of employee friendly policies and procedures to support staff through different phases of their lives,” she said.

“Progression from disability confident employer to disability confident leader is a reflection of the Golden Jubilee’s inclusive attitudes and behaviours and recognition of how we are encouraging and supporting other employers to continue on their ‘disability confident’ journey,” she noted.

She added: “We look forward to continuing to grow and develop in this area to ensure that we can work with our partners and colleagues to provide more opportunities for disabled people.”

The three levels of the Disability Confident scheme

  • Level 1 – Disability Confident Committed: aimed at encouraging employers varying in size and sector to start the journey to becoming Disability Confident
  • Level 2 – Disability Confident Employer: a self-assessment that enables the employer to demonstrate the action that they are taking to recruit and retain disabled people
  • Level 3 – Disability Confident Leader: supports a ‘business to business’ learning and leadership approach; encouraging employers share best practice and offer support to other employers on the disability confident journey
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