Disability History Month is an annual opportunity to celebrate the lives and achievements of people living with a disability or health condition. It takes place from 18 November – 20 December and one of this year’s themes is ‘disability and hidden impairments’.

Did you know?

  • 93% of people with a disability don’t use a wheelchair.
  • 83% of people acquire their disability or health condition during working age.
  • 17% of our CUH family tell us they have a disability or health condition.

Under the Equality Act 2010, a disability is any condition that affects an individual’s ability to carry out normal day-to-day activities which lasts 12 months or more. They can be physical or mental health conditions; they can be visible or invisible; neurodiversity counts too. Take a look at this infographic to find out more about disability or watch the NHS Employers video below to learn more about some hidden disabilities.



Remember, not everyone who meets the legal definition considers themselves disabled and people will use a wide variety of language to talk about their disability, health condition or neurodifference.

Staff stories

With the support of NHS Employers and Health Education England, in September 2020 members of staff took part in an online, reflective, digital storytelling workshop so that they could share, in their own words, their experiences of working in the NHS.

Elisse – Just because you cannot see what someone is going through doesn’t mean it isn’t there. Just because you cannot see a disability doesn’t mean it’s not there. Invisible disabilities challenge people, they challenge the preconceptions of others, and they are a challenge for managers, systems and cultures. This story also challenges. It challenges everyone to consider what part they have to play in another person’s experience, to think about how negative behaviours can affect the success of teams, and to acknowledge that ignorance is not an excuse but, instead, an opportunity to learn about each other, adapt accordingly – and make the NHS a better place in which to work!

Nneka – Nneka’s life is complex, as ours all are. She is committed, determined and capable. She knows who she is, and what she is going through, as she stands in the x-ray room, delivering care to us and our loved ones – but do we really see her, her challenges and her achievements behind the weighty lead apron of professionalism?

Rachel – Rachel felt written off as a child because of her Dyspraxia, but she took up that challenge got a degree and a masters’ and then a job and a home of her own. But then she faced another challenge to overcome – a lack of understanding and adjustments at work. Working with a new and supportive team of colleagues and managers, she has risen above that challenge as well.

Workplace adjustments

Staff with a disability or health condition are legally entitled to workplace adjustments to support them to perform their role. This could be physical equipment, computer software, environment changes or flexibility with working hours. Line managers are responsible for ensuring their team members have the adjustments they need to enable them to do their role.

Purple Passport

Are you someone who has a health condition or disability, or are you managing someone who does? The Purple Passport is a tool to support health and wellbeing at work, facilitating a conversation between an individual and their line manager to create a shared understanding of any health concerns, issues affecting work and any adjustments that are needed. The Passport also acts as a record of what support has been agreed.

CUH Purple Network

The CUH Purple Network is for everyone with visible or hidden disabilities, physical, neurodiverse or mental health conditions and allies to work together to promote inclusion for everyone at CUH. ‘Allies’ are people who take an active role in helping CUH become more inclusive for people from particular groups, even if they don’t share those characteristics themselves. Find out more here.

Disability History Month events

All members of the CUH family are invited to join the following online events:

  • Webinar to be rescheduled: Chronically Working webinar, led by business psychologist Sam Wilkinson.  Find out more about chronic illness and disability and how people can work in partnership to support both individual and organisational needs.
  • Friday 10 December 15:00-16:00: You can watch a recording of the webinar with Hattie here.

Join Hattie Llewelyn-Davies, Chair of both Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust and Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust and founding member of the Disabled NHS Directors Network, as she shares her career journey and ideas for supporting staff with disabilities and health conditions in the NHS.

Staff can also join these open events hosted by other NHS organisations: