Editorials

Avoiding discrimination against disabled people

BMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7069.1346 (Published 30 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1346
  1. Robin A F Cox
  1. Consultant occupational physician Linden House, Long Lane, Fowlmere, Cambridgeshire SG8 7TG

    A welcome new law, but problems ahead for doctors who have to decide who is disabled

    The new Disability Discrimination Act is, according to two of its authors, Lord Henley and Mr Alistair Burt, “intended to ensure full and fair access to employment opportunities for disabled people.” There is no doubt that this laudable intent will be greatly welcomed, not only by disabled people but also by all enlightened employers. The ministers went on to say that they wanted the accompanying guidance and code of practice “to help the Courts and Tribunals, employers and service providers interpret the definition.” These guidance notes have since been published, and they signal a contentious time ahead for health professionals.1

    The definition of disability within the act is “a physical or mental impairment which has a substantial and long-term adverse effect on [a person's] ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities.” That is a loose and broad definition that covers physical, sensory, and mental disabilities. No doubt it was intended to be broad but it will lead inevitably to a wide range of interpretation. Those most likely to be called on to define cases of disability, where it is not clearly apparent, will be medical practitioners and usually occupational …

    View Full Text

    Sign in

    Log in through your institution

    Free trial

    Register for a free trial to thebmj.com to receive unlimited access to all content on thebmj.com for 14 days.
    Sign up for a free trial

    Subscribe