Applicants with Disabilities or Health problems


Dundee Medical School welcomes applications from individuals with disabilities and recognises that high achievements despite such adversity often reflects personal potential beyond other applicants.  We have entirely separate assessment processes for the academic component (including UCAS form, UKCAT, Interview etc) and any Fitness-to-Practice considerations required and will not be prejudiced by any disclosure of disability.  We encourage you to contact us as early as possible to allow individual circumstances and support requirements to be considered if this might be relevant. All disabled students applying to medicine are encouraged to request a prospective visit to the University's Disability Services. Students who indicate on their UCAS form that they have a disability will be referred to the University's Disabilities Services on enrolment.  Please note that candidates are personally responsible for ensuring that evidence is provided about any specific learning disability or other factor affecting their physical or mental ability to practise as a doctor. The Occupational Health guidance issued by HEOPS in 2011 is our agreed point of reference for decisions regarding health or disability and is available online via http://www.heops.org.uk/.  We invite all applicants to declare any significant adverse circumstances they believe have appreciably affected their ability to construct a competitive application and it is appropriate to include health or disability details on this.  We are always happy to consider any potential concerns in advance.   


Applicants with Specific Learning Difficulties (e.g. Dyslexia)

Applicants with a specific learning disability will be asked to provide the Medical School with evidence of this in the form of a recent (within the last 3 years) diagnostic assessment by an educational psychologist or other appropriately qualified professional. This evidence may also provide indications of recommendations for support, which can then be followed by a full assessment of need in higher education. Most commonly this relates to dyslexia which can be quite simply adjusted for.  A further specialist assessment may be requested if the diagnostic report recommends support which is not obviously reasonable within a higher education or clinical setting. 

Additional time is allowed for some students with specific learning disabilities in the written exam component in accordance with the usual University policies. However, there are no alternative arrangements for students in clinical examinations, since these are designed to carefully assess examinees against specific standards of fitness to practise.

If the specialist’s report recommends support beyond additional time in written examinations, then this will be discussed at the Special Circumstances Subgroup of the Admission Committee to consider if the condition is of sufficient severity to prevent that person practising safely as a doctor.


Communicable diseases

Health screening and immunization is carried out by our occupational health service during the first year.

If the student declines screening for blood borne virus infections or is found to be a carrier of Hepatitis C or B virus or other chronic virus infection such as HIV, arrangements can be made for them to continue the programme without having to undertake exposure prone procedures.


Mental health or behavioural difficulties

Applications from people with significant mental health difficulties, past or present (e.g. personality disorders, deliberate self harm or drug addictions, including alcohol) will be considered just as any other health or disability issue.  HEOPS guidance considers specifically concentration, awareness, memory and ability to learn and understand. Historically we have found it appropriate to ensure an applicant has sustained a good full recovery over at least a two year period before they enter a highly pressured course such as medicine.   


Legal and Fitness to Practise Obligations

Dundee Medical School seeks to abide by the guidance issued by the Medical Schools Council (of Heads of Medical Schools) (2009), the relevant Disability Discrimination Acts (1995 and 2005) and the General Medical Council Fitness to Practice Guidance (2009). These are summarised below.

The practice of medicine requires the highest standards of professional competence. In relation to admission to medical school this means the school must evaluate whether there are particular circumstances that preclude a candidate being able to practise as a doctor. Issues relating to a candidate’s health will not be dealt with by an interview panel set up to assess personal qualities. Health matters will be separately considered by a separate panel informed by an Occupational Health assessment. This process would be run in parallel with the general selection process. A disability, for example, need not be a bar to becoming a doctor if the student can fulfil the rigorous demands of professional fitness to practise as a newly qualified doctor. Students with disabilities should seek advice from medical schools well before the deadline for UCAS submissions so that their individual circumstances can be considered. Applicants are expected to declare a history of any serious physical or mental disorder, and each applicant’s circumstances will be dealt with on a case by case basis. A history of serious ill hearth will not jeopardise a career in medicine unless the condition impinges on professional fitness to practise.

Accepting someone who is unlikely to fulfil the demands of professional fitness to practise would not be in the interests of the student or the school. It would raise inappropriate expectations and would be contrary to the School's overriding duty of care to the public. Failure to disclose such a history would be regarded as dishonest and inappropriate conduct.


Disability Legislation

The Disability Discrimination Act 1995 (DDA) places statutory duties on Universities to make reasonable adjustments to meet the needs of disabled students under Part 4 of the DDA 1995 (as amended by the Special Educational Needs and Disability Act (SENDA) 2001 and the DDA 1995 (Amendment) (Further and Higher Education) Regulations 2006). Universities also have a duty not to treat disabled students less favourably than other students. These duties apply to all “services” the University provides “wholly or mainly” for students, including admissions, exclusions and all aspects of learning and teaching.

In relation to admissions, it is unlawful for Universities to discriminate against a disabled person:

  • in the arrangements made for determining admissions to the institution
  • in the terms on which it offers to admit him/her to the institution, or
  • by refusing or deliberately omitting to accept an application for his/her admission to the institution.

Following amendments to Part 2 of the DDA (employment) in 2003, qualifications bodies such as the General Medical Council are required to make reasonable adjustments to their procedures for conferring professional qualifications and their procedures for assessing competence standards. They must review the basis for these standards and determine any options for flexibility to accommodate disabled students’ needs. In addition, the DDA 2005 introduced a new duty on public bodies, including Universities and the General Medical Council (GMC), to promote equality of opportunity for disabled people and to publish a Disability Equality Scheme.


Fitness to Practise Requirements

Tomorrow’s Doctors, The General Medical Council, 2009, states that ‘Students admitted will pass any health or other checks (such as criminal records) required by the medical school's fitness to practice policy' (paragraph 76).  The university is therefore not only confirming that someone has reached the requisite academic level but that they are also fit to practise medicine, which is not simply a question of academic attainment.

All successful candidates will be offered a place subject to a number of conditions, one of which will be their physical and mental ability to practise as a doctor. Schools will need to be as reasonably assured of this as possible before admitting students.

Where candidates have a disability, which might impinge on their fitness to practise medicine, the school has a duty to satisfy itself that, given reasonable adjustments, the candidate could safely practise as a doctor.

If a student is found to have deliberately failed to disclose information that would have made him or her ineligible or given false information, the school can consider removing them from training on grounds of dishonesty.