Disability History Month 2022

Find out the importance of supporting this campaign, which is celebrated widely across the NHS.

23 November 2022

Disability History Month takes place between 16 November and 16 December 2022, it's an opportunity to celebrate the achievements of people living with a disability and also raise awareness.

In the UK, 1 in 5 people have a disability, 83 per cent of which are acquired during working life.

We support Disability History Month 2022 as part of our ongoing work with NHS England 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 for 2022 is ‘Creating a disability positive NHS’ which will also be our focus at our Disability Summit on 7 December. Our summit will be chaired by disability specialist and entrepreneur Shani Dhanda and feature other industry experts, disabled staff, disabled staff networks and leaders. It will also shine a light on good practice and actions that can be taken to support disabled staff in the workplace. Visit our Disability Summit event page to see the full programme and to book your place.  

Support the campaign

Disability History Month provided a platform to run a local awareness campaign and an opportunity to:

  • 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.

Detailed below is a summary of statistics and a list of information and resources to help you support your disabled workforce. We will also be adding details of events that are happening across the NHS shortly. 

  • With over 23 per cent of respondents to the NHS Staff Survey indicating that they have a illness or long-term condition lasting 12 months or more, that means that 1 in 5 of the NHS workforce is likely to be covered by the legal definition of disability (as set out in the Equality Act 2010). 

    The following figures are taken from the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) 2022 Annual Report.  

    • Disabled staff are twice as likely to enter the formal capability process as their non-disabled colleagues.
    • 2022 data shows an increase of 0.5 percentage points to 4.2 per cent of the total workforce. 51.2 per cent of trusts have five or fewer Disabled staff in senior positions (bands 8c and above, including medical consultants and Board members).
    • Disabled board member numbers have increased by 30. The proportion has increased by 1.0 percentage points to 4.6 per cent.
    • Trusts that are rated outstanding in the CQC well-led domain show evidence of being better employers for Disabled staff.
    • Disabled staff feeling pressure from their manager to come to work, despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties has reduced by 1.2 percentage points. 
  • NHS Employers has developed a suite of WDES resources including blogs, case studies, videos and guidance to help support disability in the workplace: 

    understanding disability infographic
    understanding and supporting staff with an invisible disability
    making reasonable adjustments to support disabled staff
    NHS health passport
    a guide to improving staff disability data
    an inclusive approach to disability leave
    how to recruit and support disabled staff in the NHS

    - supporting disabled staff in the workplace
    supporting staff with caring responsibilities

    - the NHS Learning Disability Employment Programme

    WDES Annual Report 2021 published by NHS England and NHS Improvement provides a summary of the 2021 national data analysis, including key findings, recommendations for continued focus and actions by trusts and regions.

    The UK Disability Survey research report 2021 provides valuable insights across a wide range of topics, including perceptions and discrimination, housing, employment, education, shopping, leisure, and public services.

  • 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 were encouraged to support the #PurpleLightUp campaign 2022, access their campaign resourceszoom background and graphics. For alternative formats please email

    • 24 November - All Staff Network Leads Webinar, 10:30am-12:15pm
      This webinar focuses on neurodiversity; what it means, how it can present in our NHS workplaces, and how neurodivergent colleagues can be supported.
    • 30 November - Health inequalities delivered by Inspiring Hope, 2-3pm 
      Health inequalities are the preventable, unfair and unjust differences in health status between groups, populations or individuals. In this session, we will explore the factors that determine health inequalities and the impact of these.
      Teams: Join the meeting    Meeting ID: 362 780 971 383        Passcode: 6tn88V
    • 5 December - National Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Leads webinar, 12:30-1pm 
    • 7 December - Disability Summit, 9am-4:30pm
      Led by NHS Employers, the Disability Summit will shine a light on good practice and actions that can be taken to support disabled staff in the workplace. Visit our Disability Summit event page to see the full programme and to book your place.  
    • 8 December - The evolution of disability language, rights and history, 12-1.30pm 
      Delivered by Diversity and Ability. Understanding the power dynamics behind language and oppression is essential to understanding disability justice. In this workshop, Diversity and Ability will discuss disability through the lens of social justice by exploring access barriers, language use, and the many forms of disablism in the UK. The workshop will also outline the struggle of disabled patients and staff, and the trust’s role in improving inclusion and access. 
      Join the meeting Meeting ID: 854 4677 6906   Passcode: 036301 

    • 15 December - Introduction to neurodiversity, hidden differences and their impacts, 12.30-2pm 
      80 per cent of all disabilities are non-visible. In this session led by Diversity and Ability, learn about neurodiversity, non-visible differences and mental health, and how to be anticipatory in including those with ‘invisible’ needs. This session will look at the different barriers people may be facing without our knowledge and the support Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust can provide to ensure people don’t just survive but thrive.
      Join the meeting  Meeting ID:  890 6136 3585   Passcode: 421692

    Use our Disabity History Month graphics 

    Graphic image 
    Email footer
    Teams background

    Social media

    During the month follow us on Twitter @NHSE_Diversity using hashtags #DisabilityHistoryMonth and #UKDHM

    Further information

    Should you have any queries please contact