Disability History Month 2022

Find out what happened during the month and access resources to help you support disabled staff in the workplace.

9 January 2023

Disability History Month took place between 16 November and 16 December 2022, it provided 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 supported 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.  

Disability Summit 
Our theme for Disability History Month was ‘Creating a disability positive NHS’ which was also our focus at our Disability Summit which took place on 7 December. Our summit was chaired by disability specialist and entrepreneur Shani Dhanda and featured other industry experts, disabled staff, disabled staff networks and leaders.

During the summit we shared good practice and actions that can be taken to support disabled staff in the workplace. Visit our event page to watch our video highlights. 

Blog - I don't want to be called disabled 
During the month we published a blog by Paul Deemer, head of diversity and inclusion at NHS Employers. Paul highlights how the language used to describe disability can disempower many disabled people, with many staff not recording their disability on ESR.

Understanding disability infographic
We recently refreshed our disability infographic which highlights key information around disability. Organisations are encouraged to share this infographic internally and run an awareness campaign, prompting staff to record their disability on ESR and to have an open conversation with their manager. Access the infographic

Watch a video message from Matthew Taylor, chief executive, NHS Confederation 

  • 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.

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  • 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 3 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 focused 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. This session exploreed the factors that determine health inequalities and the impact of these. 
    • 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 shared good practice and actions that can be taken to support disabled staff in the workplace. Visit our Disability Summit event page to learn more.  
    • 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 discussed disability through the lens of social justice by exploring access barriers, language use, and the many forms of disablism in the UK. The workshop also outlined the struggle of disabled patients and staff, and the trust’s role in improving inclusion and access. 

    • 15 December - Introduction to neurodiversity, hidden differences and their impacts, 12.30-2pm 
      80 per cent of all disabilities are non-visible. This session was led by Diversity and Ability and provided an opportunity to learn about neurodiversity, non-visible differences and mental health, and how to be anticipatory in including those with ‘invisible’ needs. This session looked at the different barriers people may be facing without our knowledge and the support Portsmouth Hospitals University NHS Trust provides to ensure people don’t just survive but thrive.