Workplace wins

This month we look at how CSP offered workplace support to a disabled member experiencing an issue at work

Workplace wins FL March 2024 disabled member experiencing an issue at work
Workplace wins FL March 2024

Siobhán Carson is a clinical specialist physio in the condition management programme and works in Northern Ireland. She says: ‘I wanted to tell my story because I want others to know that being disabled shouldn’t prevent you from being a physiotherapist.’

Siobhán has Blepharophimosis Syndrome (BPEI) – a lifelong condition that means she is unable to produce tears and as a result presents with very dry eyes. She also struggles visually to do things such as reading small print. 

She managed the condition well for years at work, and only needed to request reasonable adjustments when computers became a key part of her daily work. ‘BPEI means that without adjustments, I have great difficulty seeing a computer screen. 

'I had reasonable adjustments in place to support me to be able to continue working,’ she explains.

In 2019, Siobhán had a new full occupational health assessment, where it was identified that she needed further reasonable adjustments to support her at work. 

This included a larger computer screen to support her note taking. There were significant delays in Siobhán accessing the recommended reasonable adjustments, further curtailed by the Covid pandemic during which she was re-deployed to a couple of different teams. During her redeployment within a community team, she was supported to work remotely. Unfortunately, in March 2021 she was told that she needed to come back into the office full time. 

Siobhán had successfully worked from home and expressed concerns about going back into the office full time when there was a government directive to work from home wherever possible. This led to her feeling unsupported and isolated in her role. She also faced increased workplace stress and needed to take sick leave due to the cumulative impact of this, a nasty bout of Covid and personal family health issues which were having an effect on her health. ‘I don’t want other physios to have to go through this, there is a lot of work to be done to call out behaviour that hinders disabled people at work.’  

After two years of working without the recommended new reasonable adjustments, in 2021, Siobhán began seeking support from her CSP rep and CSP senior negotiating officer, Claire Ronald, and Claire Dixon from the Royal National Institute of the Blind.

The case was due to reach an employment tribunal in early 2023, however the employer settled the case with Siobhán before it reached this stage. And she now has her reasonable adjustments in place.  Siobhán says, ‘without the help of the CSP and the support from Thompsons Solicitors, I wouldn’t have got to where I am today.’ 

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