Employment equality

North East NHS staff are supporting a national campaign to employ more people with a learning disability.

In recent years the employment rates for people with a learning disability have dropped and now stand at just 6% in England. NHS Employers and NHS England have joined forces and written to all senior NHS leaders informing them of tools and guidance to help.

Staff at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust (NTW), the provider of mental health and disability services in the region have already signed up to the initiative that will run alongside and complement their longstanding commitments as a Two Ticks and Mindful Employer.

In October we signed up to the Learning Disability Employment Pledge which means we will take positive action to encourage applications from people with disabilities as well as developing an action plan to make this happen. Research shows that 65% of people with a learning disability want to work and with the right support make extremely valuable employees, and crucially, opportunities with us will be paid in line with other similar jobs. We have met step one of the pledge by having ‘Two Ticks’ accreditation and we are working towards step two of the pledge where we will put in place an action plan to employ more people with learning disabilities.

Lisa Crichton-JonesExecutive Director of Workforce and Organisational Development at NTW

According to the Health and Social Care Information Centre, the percentage of people with learning disabilities in paid employment has decreased over the last four years in England dropping from 7.1% to 6%, so fewer than 10,000 people have real, fully paid jobs.

Minister for Disabled People, Justin Tomlinson says it is unacceptable that so many people with learning disabilities are overlooked for work. Justin said: “Employers need to understand that jobseekers with disabilities have a huge amount to offer and we continue to raise awareness of this through our Disability Confident campaign.”

With the NHS being the fifth largest employer in the world, with 1.7 million workers across England, Wales, Scotland Northern Ireland, if all Trust’s sign up to the Learning Disability Employment Pledge then this would make an enormous change to the lives of those with a learning disability. As NTW is a provider of learning disability services I’m delighted that we working towards this and I’m looking forward to welcoming new starters in the near future.

Lisa Crichton-JonesExecutive Director of Workforce and Organisational Development at NTW