Disability History Month

Find out what's happening and the importance of supporting this campaign, which is celebrated widely across the NHS.

1 November 2021

Disability History Month takes place between 18 November and 18 December 2021 and celebrates the lives and achievements of people living with a disability.

We are supporting Disability History Month as part of our ongoing work with NHS England and NHS Improvement to embed the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES), and ensure our workplaces are open, inclusive and a place where everyone feels like they belong.

Our theme is 'creating a compassionate and inclusive NHS' and links to the NHS People Promise.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, isolation, disconnect, disrupted routines both at home and in the workplace and diminished services have greatly impacted the lives and mental wellbeing of people with disabilities. 

Detailed below is a summary of statistics, examples of activities that are taking place in the NHS and a list of information and resources to help you support your disabled workforce. 

    • 3.5 per cent of staff in the NHS have declared a disability
    • 78.2 per cent of Disabled staff believe they have equal opportunities for career progression.
    • 92.8 per cent of trusts reported they had taken steps to facilitate the voices of disabled staff.
    • 100 per cent of NHS trusts have a disability guaranteed interview scheme in place
    • 77 per cent have a Disabled Staff Network 
    • 95 per cent of trusts are now accredited as Disability Confident

    Figures taken from the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) 2020 Annual Report 

    • Making Talent Management Inclusive for All - 24 November 1-3pm  
      NHS South West and Midlands Talent Management Teams working in partnership with the Disabled NHS Directors Network have organised a virtual event to share lived experiences, career journeys and what disabled leaders can offer to the NHS.
    • Adapt, innovate, lead: improving staff experience across the NHS - 1 December 9.30-4pm
      Join NHS Employers for a conference which brings together NHS professionals who support staff experience and are responsible for bringing the NHS People Promise to life. Hear from thought leaders and NHS organisations as they share their approaches to improving staff experience.

    • University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust are supporting the campaign for the first time, and will use this is an opportunity to raise awareness of disability equality, share lived experiences, promote their disability leave policy and disability passport. They will also promote the work of their Disability Support Network and how the organisation compares against national WDES benchmarks and the actions they have prioritised for 2021-22.  

    • Oxleas Disability Network will be hosting a Celebrate International Day of People with Disabilities event on 3 December 1-3pm. Speakers to include Manoj Soma, a Diversity Consultant and founder of Choice International a not for-profit organisation and Alex Manners who will talk about “My Life Living with Asperger’s”. Please email: if you would like to attend.

    • North Bristol NHS Trust will be hosting a number of events, to include:  

      Disabled and Neurodiverse Staff Group Meeting, 24 November 12.30 – 1.30pm. With Simon Wood, Director of Facilities and NBT Disability Champion.

      Disabled People and Recruitment, 2 Dec 1-2pm. Find out more about the NBT recruitment process and support offered for Disabled people.

      Disability Reasonable Adjustment Passport for managers and staff, 9 Dec 1–2pm.The passport provides Disabled staff and their managers an opportunity to discuss any adjustments needed and to keep a record. Come along to find out how this can work for you.

  • The UN International Day of Persons with Disabilities is held annually on 3rd December.

    #PurpleLightUp is a global movement lead by PurpleSpace that celebrates disability on 3 December. It uses the colour purple which is emblematic of disability, to drive the momentum for disability inclusion. It also draws attention to the economic contribution of the 386 million disabled employees around the world.

    Organisations are encouraged to support the #PurpleLightUp campaign, access their campaign resources, zoom background and graphics. If you would prefer to receive these in alternative formats please email

Get involved and show your support

Disability History Month provides a platform to run a local awareness campaign and:

  • celebrate the achievements of staff with disabilities
  • raise awareness of what a disability is – not all disabilities are visible or immediately apparent
  • encourage leaders and managers to support staff through compassion and inclusivity
  • encourage staff to record their disability on the NHS Electronic Staff Record and have open conversations with their managers
  • check-in with staff that sufficient adjustments have been made to support those with disabilities to carry out their roles - whether that’s onsite or from home
  • review recruitment practices to ensure they are inclusive.

Download our Disability History Month graphics

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Social media

Keep an eye on our website and Twitter @NHSE_Diversity using hashtags #NHSDHM21 and #DisabilityHistoryMonth as we join in the celebrations, share stories and resources.

Further information

Should you have any queries or if you would like to share how you are supporting the campaign please contact