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Home  »   AbilityLatest News   »   Ability Newsletter – November 2021

Ability Newsletter – November 2021

Welcome to this month's PDA Ability Network update. This edition includes information on discrimination and the Equality Act 2010, the challenges of overprescribing for patients with learning disabilities, and a look at the Disability Summit 2021.

Wed 24th November 2021 The PDA

In this issue:
  • Patients with a learning disability and the challenges of overprescribing
  • Disability Summit 2021
  • PDA supports TUC petition on long Covid
  • Supporting disabled pharmacists with reasonable adjustments
  • Discrimination and The Equality Act 2010
  • Getting in touch
  • In case you missed it

Patients with a learning disability and
the challenges of overprescribing

By Clare Hirst, PDA Organiser (North)

The PDA recently welcomed the Chief Pharmaceutical Officer for England’s report outlining the serious consequences of people being prescribed too many, or the wrong combination of medicines, whilst noting that it does not go far enough in acknowledging the role that pharmacists can play in improving patients’ health. This report also made clear that there is a link between overprescribing and inequalities in society, highlighting amongst others, patients with a learning difficulty as a group who are disproportionately affected by oversubscribing.

This is not a new discovery with NHS England launching their Stopping Over Medication of People with a learning disability, autism, or both (STOMP) initiative back in 2016. You can get more information and resources here.

The PDA’s own long-term strategy Wider Than Medicines’ focuses on the need for a joined-up care system with patients at the centre. The policy document reads, ‘By focusing on interventions throughout the patient care journey, we can eliminate some of the silo working in the system. Through the creation of a community of practice we can ensure that pharmacists, doctors, and others across all sectors can apply their unique skills collaboratively, so that they can achieve joint objectives in a much more efficient and joined up way.’

Disability Summit 2021

By Anjlee Shah, PDA National Representative and PDA Ability Network member


I represented PDA members at the recent Disability Summit 2021 hosted by NHS Employers in partnership with NHS England and NHS Improvement. The programme centred around ‘Voice’, ‘Power’, ‘Advocacy’ and ‘Change’, with insight on good practice from organisations that have successfully supported disability within the workplace.

There were insightful speakers including Amar Latif, TV presenter, blind adventurer and entrepreneur who said, “preconceptions that can stop us doing things, can come from us as well as other people” and emphasised the need to collectively challenge unconscious bias, assumptions, and inequalities.

Another presenter, Laura Pisaneschi, chair of Ability Network ELFT, reinforced the need for having a compassionate and kind culture where we are encouraged to share experiences and raise awareness of different disabilities.

There was focus on the Government’s new Disability Strategy and how to ensure this has real impact. The key is inclusion and reasonable adjustments should be the default position for any employer. Staff should be seen as enriching the NHS, not as a burden and having advocacy and employee voice is vital as 80% of disability is not always visible.

Disability friendly workplaces recognise the significance of adjustments and accessibility, and it’s useful to know that employers can join initiatives such as Communication Access UK which shares the vision of improving the lives of people with communication difficulties. There are e-learning packages where employers can get accredited on completion. Currently 3,000 employers in the UK have signed up, recognising that utilising inclusive and assisted technology to support, attract and retain diverse talent is fundamental to a strong workforce.

PDA supports TUC petition on long Covid

By Clare Hirst, PDA Organiser (North)

Earlier this year, the PDA supported a Trades Union Congress (TUC) petition calling for the Government to recognise long Covid as a disability. This is following a recent study by the TUC which found that more than half of people currently living with long Covid have faced discrimination at work because of their illness.

TUC General Secretary Frances O’Grady said, “Many of the workers who have carried us through the pandemic are now living with debilitating symptoms of long Covid…it’s time to recognise this condition properly – and make sure workers who are living with long Covid get the support they need to do their jobs.”

Extending protections so that they cover workers with long Covid would put a duty on employers to make reasonable adjustments that remove, reduce or prevent any disadvantaged workers with long Covid. The PDA urges all pharmacists and their teams to support this campaign. It’s not too late to sign the petition.

If you feel you have been treated unfairly at work whilst living with long Covid, please contact the PDA for advice and support by emailing


Supporting disabled pharmacists
with reasonable adjustments

Members of the PDA Ability Network met earlier this month to discuss how they can work to support disabled pharmacists and tackle workplace discrimination. A key topic in the conversation was ‘reasonable adjustments.’

It is stated that under UK law, ‘Employers must make reasonable adjustments to make sure workers with disabilities, or physical or mental health conditions, are not substantially disadvantaged when doing their jobs.’

The PDA has seen an increase in members requiring support establishing ‘reasonable adjustments’ within their workplaces and training institutions. PDA Ability Network members also feel that pharmacists who are eligible to request reasonable adjustments are not necessarily aware of their rights. You can find out more about reasonable adjustments here.

We encourage all PDA members who feel that their employer is failing in their duty to make reasonable adjustments, contact the PDA Service Center by emailing

If you would like to be involved in a PDA project relating to supporting members and addressing disability discrimination, or in the Ability Network in general, please email

Discrimination and The Equality Act 2010

By Richard Hutton, Locum/Consultant Pharmacist and PDA Regional Official (North)


The Discrimination and Equality Act 2010 makes it unlawful to discriminate against someone based on nine protected characteristics listed under the Act. These are; age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage and civil partnership, pregnancy, maternity, race, religion or belief and sexual orientation.

In simple terms, discrimination is when someone is treated less favourably because of a protected characteristic and the Act describes various forms of discrimination. For more information, download the PDA’s Guide to Discrimination in the Workplace.

However, we think it is important for PDA members to note that you don’t need to have a protected characteristic to be directly discriminated against. Associative discrimination is when you are treated unfairly because of the protected characteristics of those with whom you associate with e.g., a friend or family member. Associative Discrimination does not apply to Marriage and Civil Partnerships, Pregnancy or Maternity but one example could be a parent with a disabled child not being employed because of concerns around them needing more time off.’

It’s also useful for PDA members to know that another form of direct discrimination is perceived discrimination, which occurs when someone is treated less favourably because others believe that they have a protected characteristic when they do not. An example of perceived discrimination could be an employer rejecting a job application from a white woman whom it wrongly assumes to be black because the applicant has a surname of African origin.

For more information click below to download the PDA’s Guide to Discrimination in the Workplace.


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.

Pharmacists that are not yet members of the PDA can join today here.

In case you missed it

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





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