Walker, Stuart, Dearnley, Christine, Walker, Elizabeth A. and Hargreaves, Janet (2013) Risk, Fitness to Practice, and Disabled Health Care Students. Journal of Psychological Issues in Organizational Culture, 3 (4). pp. 46-59. ISSN 2041-8418

The United Kingdom Equality Act of 2010 poses challenges to regulators, educators, and employers to ensure that disabled people are not excluded from health care professions on the basis of their impairment. Professional bodies must also anticipate the needs of disabled people and facilitate inclusion.

In this article, we discuss some of the current tensions that exist between U.K. antidiscrimination legislation and the professional and statutory regulatory bodies that govern registration of health and social care practitioners in the United Kingdom. We present research that used a mixed methods approach to explore the tensions between higher education and placement providers in the health sector.

Disabled students and health professionals engaged in semistructured interviews, and a survey explored the knowledge, skills, and attitudes of professional staff from a range of disciplines and institutions. Findings suggest that the negative feelings disabled students report are also evident in responses from health care professionals.

Notions of risk emerge as a key issue from the data. We discuss whether the risk is perceived or actual and develop models to challenge existing preconceptions about the risk posed by disabled students when training as health care professionals. Finally, we suggest that while work clearly needs to be done in this area, some of this work can be addressed through the development of an inclusive curriculum for all health care practitioners. This article proposes an educational model of risk with which to guide this process.

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