Belfast Telegraph

Eye disability care worker in £16k payout over trust failings

An auxiliary nurse has been awarded more than £16,000 in compensation after a health trust failed to put in place measures for her to return to work after developing a disability.

Angela McCracken took the case against the Northern Health and Social Care Trust after contracting a degenerative eye condition, retinitis pigmentosa.

Her central vision was not affected but she has no peripheral vision and experiences temporary difficulties in adjusting to changes in lighting.

She notified the trust in August 2011 that she was ready to return to work after maternity leave.

An eye specialist had stated Ms McCracken was fit for work and that she "should only be placed in work where it is brightly lit".

But an industrial tribunal has ruled that the advice was not acted upon by Ms McCracken's employers within a reasonable timeframe.

Despite a series of meetings in 2011 and early 2012, it was only last September before she was able to return to work.

The adjustments regarding the wards and the hours within which she could work were not made until December.

The award of £16,684 covered financial loss from January 26 to August 2 2012 and included £6,419 for "injury to feelings as a result of the unwarranted delay".

Ms McCracken said: "I am glad to be back at work. That period where my eyesight was deteriorating was extremely difficult for me, I was also coping with a new baby and a toddler.

"The delays I encountered when trying to get a reasonable adjustment to allow me to get back to work made it even more stressful, and being informed that my employment was being terminated caused me a lot of distress."

Anne McKernan of the Equality Commission, which supported the case, said lessons should be learned. "This case highlights the importance to employers of responding to requests for reasonable adjustments, not just in the terms of changes made, but promptly," she said.

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