HOPE for Disabled Doctors was created by myself, a doctor with a visual impairment. I have been partially sighted since childhood, but had not encountered any significant problems during schooling, medical school or PRHO jobs. Shortly after commencing my first SHO post, my eye-sight unexpectedly and acutely deteriorated. It did not recover.
I was effectively told that my medical career was over. My employment on my SHO rotation was ended. “Go away, get yourself registered blind, and get a new career,” are the words of a consultant now forever engrained on my memory.
I wasn’t ready to give up. Not by a long shot. I spent the next couple of years identifying individuals who were willing to help me regain my employment, my self-belief and my future.
To say this was a difficult task is a wholly inadequate understatement. Trying to hold down a job was difficult enough. Trying to hold down a job whilst attempting to investigate my legal position; identifying my options for future career pathways; discovering my rights regarding individualised assessments; identifying reasonable adjustments that would allow me to continue working; wondering how I was going to pay the mortgage; trying to maintain family relationships and friendships…..
The information was simply not out there; nor were there many identifiable individuals who were willing to help me source the required information.
Anger, depression, frustration, isolation…….. I’ve been there, felt that and have got the T-shirt. I felt very strongly that no-one else deserved to be put through the agony, uncertainly, and exasperation that I’d repeatedly encountered during this time. That’s what motivated me to establish HOPE for Disabled Doctors – to try to prevent others having to struggle for support, and to provide a sign-posting service direct to relevant services and advice.
HOPE is supported by the Communication Skills Unit based within the General Practice Department at Cardiff University.