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We know that not all disabilities can be seen and might not be immediately apparent to others

9 December 2022

Disability History Month may only be one month in the year, however, both personally and as the Chief Workforce Officer for the NHS and Chief Executive of Health Education England, I believe that it symbolises the actions that we should all be taking every day to create diverse and inclusive places of work across Our NHS. The ultimate goal in celebrating this month is to work towards achieving true equality and inclusion for people with disabilities.

I am committed to encouraging our learners and colleagues across health and care who are living and working with a disability to come forward so that we can find the right ways to support them to thrive throughout their training and careers.

We know that not all disabilities can be seen and might not be immediately apparent to others, such as mental illness, chronic pain or fatigue, sight or hearing impairments, brain injuries, neurological disorders and learning differences, amongst many, many others.

Many learners and trainees still feel unable to be open about being disabled. People are scared to talk about their disability or living with a long-term condition because of stigma or discrimination.

This often means that people are missing out on the support they are entitled to, and this can be detrimental to them and of course to their learning and work. I am keen to ensure we do everything we can to ensure we build a culture in which it’s normal to talk about disability openly.

Our trainees and learners with disabilities must feel confident and safe to be open about their disabilities to make sure people can access the support they need to be at their best.

There is help available and we must as senior leaders advocate for our learners and colleagues with disabilities. There are funds and support mechanisms in place, to support them to achieve their training goals and career aspirations. The process of applying for, and accessing, the support available can be confusing and overwhelming, which is why HEE has worked with Diversity & Ability to put together resources to help.

We have helped develop the Find Your Way Guide, which is a helpful interactive guide to practical and financial support available such as the Disabled Students Allowance and the Access to Work grant scheme.

It is also important to encourage colleagues to declare any disabilities on ESR so organisations can build a more accurate picture of the diversity of its workforce. By seeking to improve our ESR data for those with disabilities and reducing the amount of missing information, I am hopeful that it will encourage more staff to feel comfortable speaking about their lived experiences to their managers – creating a more open culture.

Our recent National Education and Training Survey received the biggest response we’ve ever seen from learners across all professions. The results will be out in January 2023, and we are keen to ensure we listen and act upon what students and trainees tell us to drive improvements in education and training. It’s about time we all started talking about disabilities as the norm, and I think a welcome shift is underway.

Best wishes


Dr Navina Evans

Chief Executive 

Health Education England

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This Page was last updated on: 9 December 2022