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Shipman measures “may discriminate against health workers”

5 September 2007

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Government measures aimed at implementing the recommendations of the Harold Shipman inquiry could discriminate against healthcare staff, a report claims.

The Disability Rights Commission (DRC) said that tightening the regulations around workers needing to be of “good health” will reinforce discrimination against disabled people or those with long-term health conditions.

DRC chairman Sir Bert Massie said there are more than 100 pieces of guidance on standards of health across nursing, teaching, social work, and other health professionals, that contribute to a culture that excludes disabled people.

He said: “What we all require, as users of public services, are rigorously applied professional standards of competence and conduct that are regularly monitored, with sharing of relevant information across institutions – systems which the Shipman and others inquiries indicated as needing improvement.”

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health said: “We welcome the detailed consideration that the DRC has given to this matter and we look forward to the opportunity to consider its recommendations in detail once we have received a copy of the final report.

“The Disability Discrimination Act provides protection to disabled people wishing to take up a career in health and social care and applies to employers, professional regulators and in education and training.

“We fully support all the positive work undertaken by the regulators, health and social care employers, educational and professional bodies to encourage suitably qualified disabled people to pursue careers in this sector.”

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