THIS WEEKBMJ 2004; 329 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.329.7468.s123 (Published 25 September 2004) Cite this as: BMJ 2004;329:s123
I am very emotional writing this: I have just given a talk to 155 enthusiastic “new” graduate entry medical students at the University of Warwick, where I shared some memories about my own career. I am surprised that even after several years, some of the negative situations I have had to face because of my illness can still bring tears to my eyes. I shared one of the worst ones with the students:
When I was doing one of my senior house officer jobs not long after I first received a diagnosis of scleroderma, I had to receive some toxic treatment, which meant being off for a few weeks. As human resources did not arrange a locum, my senior house officer colleagues had to cover for me. I came back to work as soon as I was discharged, only to be marched into a room by all of my peers who bluntly told me that they didn't want to work with me anymore because they were tired of covering for me.
I don't think that I have ever recovered from that incident but, hopefully, with the extension of the Disability Discrimination Act (DDA), which comes into force on 1 October, doctors should be protected from ever being made to feel as guilty, inadequate, and upset as I did that day (and a long time after).
Throughout our series we have shared the experiences of many doctors with disabilities and illnesses to highlight the extension of the DDA. This week's issue is the climax: we have a slightly bigger issue covering what some organisations (p 131) and deaneries (p 132) are doing to support medical students and doctors with disabilities, what the DDA means for undergraduate and postgraduate training (p 123) and again, we major on doctors' experiences (pp 128, 130, 134). We plan to publish previous articles in this series and this issue as a booklet which should be ready to distribute in a few weeks.
I am also delighted to announce that thanks to the dedication and determination of Clare Redstone, a general practitioner with a recent hearing loss, the UK Health Professionals with Hearing Loss website (www.hphl.org.uk) is now officially open.