Disability: Welsh hospitals made the doctor feel rejected

Georgie up close

According to a doctor who was looking for work after becoming paralyzed in a car accident, hospitals in Wales "didn't want to know" about the additional needs of disabled staff.

Dr. Georgina Budd, an A&E physician by training, said, "They wanted someone that could easily and quickly fill the post without them having to do anything.".

She ultimately became a general practitioner at a clinic that could meet her needs.

Boards of health declared their dedication to fostering inclusive environments.

Dr. Budd, also known as Georgie, who worked for three years as a clinical fellow in the A, said, "There shouldn't be a limit because of my disability.".

"I've dealt with medical emergencies in the past, and being in a wheelchair hasn't made me any less effective. ".

But she claimed that she encountered obstacles when it came time to look for a full-time job.

I've heard coworkers tell me: "You need to consider your career and how you tailor it to your disability," Georgie said.

Why should I have to? I ought to be able to pursue the specialty I want. ".

Georgie close up
Georgie claims she felt that the hospital where she applied for jobs did not want to make accommodations for her disability.

Georgie claimed that a hospital requested her to work an unpaid "trial shift" for one job application.

She remarked that everything was dressed up in terms of "so we can see how we can help you.".

The phrase "so we can see how many adjustments you would need so we can see if it's financially viable for us to change things around for you" stood out. ".

Because they make up a significant portion of our clientele, she continued, "You would think that hospitals are set up for disabled people, but they are not.".

Georgie in her wheel chair in GP treatment room
Georgie claims that being a general practitioner has given her more freedom to pursue research, medical activism, and disability advocacy.

She pointed out that many hospital cabinets are out of reach for wheelchair users and that some structures are still inaccessible.

"Life has been designed for physically fit people. It was not constructed for me or the rest of the disabled community, she declared.

Another barrier is long work hours.

She admitted, "I do take longer to get ready and leave the house in the mornings.

I might not be able to start working at 8 am like some doctors if I don't get up at an absurd hour.

"Since ward rounds take place in the morning, that presented a challenge at first.

"We are looking for reasonable accommodations, but it's very challenging to get those changes implemented and to change people's perceptions of disability and a disabled doctor. ".

Georgie standing up at physio
At her weekly physiotherapy sessions, Georgie claims that performing assisted stands keeps her paralyzed legs healthy.

Georgie began attending Cardiff Medical School in 2009; she is a native of Downton, Wiltshire.

In 2017, while traveling to her shift at the Glangwili Hospital, she lost control of her vehicle due to a blown tire. At a speed of 50 mph (80 km/h), she swerved into a pole to avoid oncoming traffic.

She was paralyzed from the waist down at the age of 30 and believed her professional life was over.

composite of two images... on the left showing a wrecked blue car, and the right Georgie in a hospital bed
Georgie was paralyzed at the age of 30 due to a car accident.

But she struggled to finish her training as a doctor.

"The world is not coming to an end. Although there are difficulties and difficulties, I kept telling myself that my life wasn't over," she said.

She recalled her first encounter with a patient in a wheelchair while working as a doctor: "She looked at me and. was all, "Oh, hi, love.". Do you work with the patients?".

"'No, today I'm your doctor,'. "  .

A young Georgie before he accident standing in front of a stone wall and gate
In the year before her accident in 2017, Georgie visited Paris.

Georgie finished her medical training at Glangwili Hospital in August, but she changed her specialty and is now a general practice trainee after struggling to find employment.

The T Calon Lân surgery in Mountain Ash, Rhondda Cynon Taf, offers more flexible hours and more social interaction.

Around 8 am, a caregiver arrives at her Merthyr Tydfil home to begin her typical day.

"I could probably complete it on my own just about. I was slipping though because I was so worn out," she admitted.

"Having [a caretaker] in just kind of smooths out the morning, allowing me to save my energy and put it into things that I really want to do,". " .

Georgie in her bedroom getting help from a carer
Georgie has a caregiver come to her house to "smooth out" her mornings.

She co-chairs the Welsh branch of the British Medical Association's junior doctors committee, and she is collaborating with Swansea University on a study on medical students' mental health needs.

Having a general practice allows me to be more involved in medical politics and research while still seeing my patients and having a positive impact on them, the woman said.

She added that it gives her time to support disabled people as Adapt Gateway's chairwoman trustee, a mentoring and support organization for those with disabilities.

In a perfect world, she said, "any child who wanted to become a doctor as an adult but had a disability wouldn't feel that's off limits to them.".

Georgie close up
Georgie wants people to recognize the value that people with disabilities can add.

A "perspective change in society" would be necessary, she said.

It's realizing that a disability isn't a sign of incapacity, she said. "My ability to practice medicine is unaffected by being in a wheelchair. ".

She stated that she wants full accessibility to be the norm in all medical facilities so that nobody feels excluded.

She said, "I want more disabled kids to know this kind of opportunity is available to them.

That it is unimportant if their legs are immobile. A consultant I know only has one arm. Why shouldn't he be a doctor if he still draws blood and is an effective one?

Georgie at the wheel of her van
People were shocked to see Georgie driving again after the accident.

"A lot of what a doctor does is up here," she added, touching her temple.

"I've put chest drains in, I've sutured people.  all kinds of crazy stuff.

"I adapt it for me but I can still do it.  It's just doing it a different way. ".

Georgie spent months in hospital recovering from her accident, an experience she said gives her more empathy for her patients.

"I think that knowledge is something that can really help the medical community," she said.

"Having more doctors that have gone through poor health experiences, chronic illness, disability is important to widening doctors' understanding of what their patients are going through. " .

Georgie in a mirror applying makeup
Georgie says she was "always a girly girl", stressing how a disability does not change who the person is.

She said more understanding of disability was needed in society more generally, recalling upsetting comments she overheard after her friends had to carry her into a non-accessible café.

"We were sat there and this young woman said really loudly: 'Why would she even come here, it's clearly not disabled accessible.  Does she not realise that she's just a nuisance'. ".

Comments like that could be "hard", Georgie admitted, but said they made her more determined to "normalise" disability.

"I can spend the next 60 years miserable because I can't stand up, or I can do something about this," she said.

Several health boards in Wales said they follow an all-Wales recruitment process designed to ensure "fair and equal opportunities for all" and that disabled candidates who meet the minimum standard were guaranteed an interview.

"Only when shortlisting is complete will a candidate's self-declaration [of a disability] be visible, alerting the appointing manager that reasonable adjustments may be required," said Lisa Gostling, from Hywel Dda health board.

Aneurin Bevan health board said it offered disabled staff access to work assessments, aiming to "create an inclusive environment for our staff and patients".

Powys health board said "tailored adjustments will be made, where possible, to roles and/or workplaces through discussion between the manager and the employee".

Betsi Cadwaladr heath board said it "welcomes applications from individuals with disabilities and value all staff".

A Welsh government spokesperson said it expected "all NHS organisations to comply with the Equality Act 2010, and to follow best practice regarding the recruitment and retention of staff".

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