Lack of NHS targets for disabled people leads to unequal treatment

Disabled people are being discriminated against in the NHS as a
result of a lack of targets ensuring services meet their

At a conference on improving access to health and social care for
disabled people last week, Karen Shook, adviser for disability
equality and user involvement at Brent Primary Care Trust, pointed
out the discrepancy in monitoring at the NHS.

She said:”Under the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, there are
targets in the NHS for the percentage of services which are
ethnically monitored. There is nothing like this for disabled

There are also no specific targets on the employment of disabled
people within the NHS, despite various pieces of guidance, many of
which date back to 2000.

The Disability Services Team, which is responsible for providing
information about the implementation of the Disability
Discrimination Act 1995 on the Department of Health website, has
not updated its pages since November 2001.

A spokesperson for the DoH said an assessment of provision for
disabled people was “planned” and discussions were under way with
the Disability Rights Commission on forming a strategy on
disability employment equality in the NHS.

New research by disabled people’s charity Leonard Cheshire reveals
that while more than 90 per cent of primary care trusts include
disabled access in their policies, significant numbers of disabled
people still experience unequal treatment. Staff attitudes and poor
communication with service users are identified as key

Meanwhile, the head of the British Council for Disabled People,
Andy Rickell, told the conference that national service frameworks
weakened disabled people’s ability to fight discrimination by
categorising them by impairment. “NSFs split people up according to
their different problems when in reality everyone has a common
problem relating to discrimination,” he said.

Rickell added that service providers were often unsure about which
NSF people fitted into.

The conference was held by Harrogate Centre for Excellence in
Health & Social Care.

– Fair Treatment? from Leonard Cheshire on 020 7802 8204.

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