Does the author's employer's refusal to provide clinical supervision amount to disability discrimination? | LawHive - Solicitors & Lawyers Online
Does the author's employer's refusal to provide clinical supervision amount to disability discrimination?
Hi, I am an NHS Specialist Nurse. I work with a client group who have a physiological condition with associated complex psychological needs. When I applied for the job I knew little about this clinical area and was unaware of the complex psychological needs. Most of the time I cope ok, but some of the time I really struggle. I have my own complex mental health history and some of what goes on with my patients elicits painful memories of my own. At times, this makes it hard for me to do the job. My MacMillan Nurse colleagues all receive something called ‘clinical supervision’. This is basically a group counselling session led by a facilitator paid for by MacMillan. I am not a MacMillan nurse, therefore I do not receive clinical supervision because there is no charity money pot paying for a facilitator. I used to be a MacMillan nurse and actually found the cancer patients a lot easier to deal with than my current client group. The sort of triggering that happens to me when I worked as a MacMillan nurse. I think my employer should provide me with clinical supervision, ideally 1:1 because I don’t see any benefit for colleagues listening to me talk about some pretty heavy mental health issues. I don’t want to be the one causing distress for other people! Given I have a mental health condition that can reasonably be considered a disability, does my employers refusal to provide me with clinical supervision like the MacMillan nurses receive amount to disability discrimination? Many thanks for your help with this BTW - no comments please about whether I should be working as a nurse. I am high functioning and very good at my job, but the personal cost to me of doing it is very high.


29th March 2022

Top Answer
NQ but RMN. Firstly, I'm sorry you're experiencing these difficulties, both in terms of your practice and its effects on you, and in receiving adequate support. In my experience clinical supervision is (and should be) offered to practitioners in all areas of mental health/ psychological therapy/ counselling, and for many disciplines is mandatory. Given that you're working directly with clients with psychological needs I'd have hoped this would be reason enough to provide it. I do question though whether it's clinical supervision you're actually looking for; often this is used as a means to develop and bolster your practice, by reflection and drawing on another clinician's experience, and as far as that goes it sounds like it will be useful in exploring ways for your job to effect you less, and for you to feel (and perhaps be) more effective in your role. I'm assuming you're working outside of a mental health Trust per-se? If your employer can't provide anything "in house" I wonder if it's worth looking for a supervisor in a neighbouring mental health Trust. Otherwise it can be provided by (for example) a Psychologist or therapist on a paid basis. I'd certainly argue that given your job role there is a need, and there's a lot of literature supporting this. It may also be argued that this constitutes a "reasonable adjustment" to allow you to do your job, assuming that you fall under the remit of the Equalities Act. On the other side, I do wonder if a more counselling based approach may be useful for you, and often this can be sought via occupational health. I hope that's helpful, and you find the right support for you.

David Anderson

29th March 2022

1 upvote

Nq but work in an NHS complex psychological needs service. I assume you're not receiving clinical supervision because th service is not a mental health service and you're not providing mental health services to your client group. Despite this, I can see why this may be difficult. I agree with the above post, in that clinical supervision may play a different role to what you may be looking for and perhaps seeking mental health support for yourself will help alleviate some of the distress you are experiencing and making you feel more able to manage this aspect of your job. Maybe it's worth speaking to your manager? Or does your trust have a wellbeing service? Ours is brilliant and offers an array of support. Best of luck to you!

Lincoln Heim

29th March 2022

Nq but GP. Clinical supervision is normally related to clinical work not necessarily mental health support per se. Have you spoken to your managers about this, have you spoken to occupational health for an assessment and they might have access to therapy? Assume you are part of RCN, have you asked if they provide any mental health support? If none of these things are available, have you sought help via your gp?

Marcia Middleton

29th March 2022

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