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Ability Newsletter – March 2022

In this March update, read about a recent research report that suggests practical steps to reduce inequalities in staff recruitment and career progression. Also, a member shares his experience of working as a partially sighted pharmacist and we find out more about 'Access to Work' - a government scheme that can pay for extra support to help you stay or start work.

Tue 29th March 2022 The PDA

In this issue:
  • Working as a partially sighted pharmacist in 2022
  • Access to Work – a scheme that can pay for extra support to help you start or stay in work
  • New guidance on mental wellbeing at work published by NICE
  • Practical steps to reduce inequalities in staff recruitment and career progression
  • Help us to advance our work on equality by completing our diversity monitoring form
  • Time to plan the next Ability Network meeting!
  • Get involved
  • Getting in touch
  • In case you missed it

We encourage you to share this mailing with colleagues that would like to read it.

Working as a partially sighted pharmacist in 2022

By Osama Madlom, Primary Care Pharmacist


Some may have not heard of the term Retinitis Pigmentosa (RP) but I was diagnosed with this condition when I was around 12 years old back in the early 1990s. In a nutshell, the condition begins with mild night blindness, then progresses onto the loss of peripheral vision.

Other issues like cataracts and macular oedema can manifest themselves as well. It is a progressive condition with no cure, however, great strides are currently being made with gene therapy.

Luckily, for most of my career, the condition has been more of a nuisance than a handicap. After losing my licence, transport was an issue, but my employers generously helped to pay for some taxi fares.

My advice for other pharmacists who are partially sighted is to use networks around you. This could be people or charities such as Retina UK, who have been invaluable in assisting individuals with sight loss.

Disabled pharmacists can contribute just as much if not more than able-bodied people. Technology has developed so much and disabilities are not the hindrance they once were. It’s no good playing the victim, people have more respect for you if you seize the day!


Access to Work – a scheme that can pay for extra support to help you start or stay in work

We often talk about how employers have a legal responsibility to support employees with a disability in the workplace by considering reasonable adjustments or by providing extra equipment. If you need extra support at work, you should always start by talking to your employer to see how they can help you.

However, there are also wider schemes you can access that you may not know about. In addition to support from your employer, you may also be able to get help from Access to Work.

Access to Work is a government scheme that can pay for extra support to help you start or stay in work. The support offered is based on your needs, and the scheme is available to you if you have a mental or physical health condition, or a disability that affects you at work. An Access to Work grant does not need to be paid back and could pay for a range of different support. This may include specialist equipment to make working easier, help with travel costs, and mental health support.

You can check your eligibility for Access to Work here.

You can also access the Access to Work easy read factsheet here or visit the DWP YouTube sign channel for British Sign Language (BSL) videos about Access to Work.


New guidance on mental wellbeing at work published by NICE

By Alison Jones, PDA Director of Policy

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) has published new guidance around the creation of the right conditions for good mental wellbeing at work. This guidance is designed to “promote a supportive and inclusive work environment, including training and support for managers and helping people who have or are at risk of poor mental health.”

NICE is a statutory body that looks at improving outcomes for people using the NHS and other public health and social care services.

Significantly, the NICE guidance includes points on how to develop supportive working environments. This not only recognises the importance of mental wellbeing, but calls on employers to develop policies, processes, and ways of working with staff that are reasonable and inclusive. The guidance also encourages a fair and supportive workplace environment and culture. These should consider legal obligations, statutory requirements, and employer-led strategies, examples of which include work-life balance, anti-bullying, and flexible working.


Practical steps to reduce inequalities in staff recruitment and career progression 

By Clare Hirst, PDA Organiser (North)

‘No More Tick Boxes’ is a recent research report commissioned by NHS East of England that is written by Roger Kline. It brings together a range of research evidence to suggest practical steps that NHS employers can take to reduce inequalities in staff recruitment and career progression. This specifically relates to female staff, disabled staff, and staff of Black and Minority Ethnic origin.

The report pointed to concerning data in relation to disabled candidates including;

  • A large gap in UK employment rates between disabled (49.2%) and non-disabled adults (80.6%).
  • The disparity in the percentage of the working-age population who are disabled (17.6%) against the number of employees who are disabled (11.4%). 
  • Disabled candidates typically apply for 60% more jobs than non-disabled candidates before securing a job in England (Bulman (2017).
  • Within the NHS: non-disabled job applicants are 1.23 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting compared to disabled applicants.

Roger Kline analyses the issues through examining bias and stereotypes and details positive action using principles drawn from his research to underpin suggestions made for improving each stage of the recruitment process and career progression.

The report addresses potential bias. There is practical and positive guidance for each stage of the process that can be utilised by employers within both hospital and community settings to improve recruitment and progression opportunities for disabled pharmacists and other under-represented groups.

We would suggest that all Ability Network members find out more about the recruitment policies in their workplace.

Get involved 

Help us to advance our work on equality by completing our diversity monitoring form

As any large membership organisation should, the PDA confidentially records diversity information to enable us to review data and look for any trends relating to protected characteristics such as race, sex, or disability.

Monitoring diversity data can help the PDA to identify if pharmacists with particular characteristics are affected more or less by certain situations. For example, if there is a disproportionate frequency of those with a certain characteristic being subject to workplace disciplinary processes or redundancy.

We are therefore inviting all members to complete our diversity monitoring form to improve our overall data and help us to do even better regarding equality.


Time to plan the next Ability Network meeting!

We are pleased to announce that the Ability Network now has over 100 members! This is the perfect time to organise our next meeting. We know there may be barriers to you attending network meetings, and we would really appreciate it if you would complete this short survey to help us plan future meetings and remove any barriers to attendance.

The survey will be open until Friday 15 April 2022. We would really appreciate your time in completing the survey, which is estimated to take no longer than 6 minutes.


Get involved 

It is wonderful to see the number of Ability Network members increasing! Members are encouraged to ask pharmacist colleagues to also join the network. Membership is open to all UK pharmacists, former pharmacists, students, and trainees. Pharmacists do not need to identify as having a disability to join the network, we welcome all allies who will support equality and fairness for disabled pharmacists. Find out more about the Ability Network below.


Getting in touch

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

Telephone: 0121 694 7000


Follow the Ability Network on social media using the hashtag #PDAability.

Please also feel free to share this mailing with a colleague that would like to read it.

In case you missed it

Below are recently published PDA news items relating to the Ability Network.






The Pharmacists' Defence Association is a company limited by guarantee. Registered in England; Company No 4746656.

The Pharmacists' Defence Association is an appointed representative in respect of insurance mediation activities only of
The Pharmacy Insurance Agency Limited which is registered in England and Wales under company number 2591975
and is authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority (Register No 307063)

The PDA Union is recognised by the Certification Officer as an independent trade union.

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