The NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) came into force on 1 April 2019 and is a set of specific measures (metrics) that enables NHS organisations to compare the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. This information is then used by organisations to develop a local action plan, and enable them to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.
The WDES is important because research shows that a motivated, included and valued workforce helps to deliver high quality patient care, increased patient satisfaction and improved patient safety. It supports positive change for existing employees, and enables a more inclusive environment for disabled people working in the NHS.
WDES 2023 data collection and the reporting framework
The WDES 2022 reporting timeline ran from 1 May to 31 May for NHS trusts and foundation trusts. It required metrics and narrative data to be reported via the WDES data collection framework (DCF).
In addition, trusts are required to publish details on their website by 31 October 2023 - this includes their WDES annual report which should contain their organisation’s data for each metric, their WDES action plan and details of progress.
Visit NHS England and NHS Improvement to learn more about the WDES..
2022 WDES annual report
The WDES Annual Report 2022 is based on analysis of data returns from NHS trust and foundation trusts from 2019 to 2022 data. It provides us with the second opportunity to compare year on year progress into the career and workplace experiences of NHS disabled staff. This report provides a summary of the 2022 national data analysis and presents key findings, recommendations for continued focus and actions by trusts, regions and the national Equality, Diversity and Inclusion team at NHS England and NHS Improvement.
At a national level, the evidence clearly highlights that many disabled staff continue to experience inequalities in the workplace when compared to their non-disabled colleagues. The analysis demonstrates the continued need for trusts to take robust action, with monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that progress takes place and that ongoing work programmes support positive change.
Access our summary of the WDES 2022 key findings and actions for more information and find out what you can do to improve the experience of disabled staff in the workplace.
Access WDES resources and disability related guidance
We have worked with NHS England and Improvement to develop the following suite of resources to help you implement and support disabled staff.
- WDES Technical Guidance
- WDES Metrics
- WDES Quick guide and factsheet
- Developing WDES reports and action plans - webinar recording and templates
- Making reasonable adjustments to support disabled staff in their roles
- Understanding disability infographic
- A guide to improving staff disability data
- An inclusive approach to disability leave
- Understanding and supporting staff with a hidden disability
- Developing WDES annual reports and action plans
- Managing disability related absence
- Managing reasonable adjustments in the workplace
- Improving disability declaration rates
- The role of senior leaders in supporting workforce disability
- Recruiting and retaining staff with disabilities - manager responsibilities
We have produced a suite of videos detailing individual stories of NHS staff who have received workplace support that has enabled them to thrive in their roles:
- Paul Belk - a payroll officer at Northumbria Healthcare and a wheelchair user with a neurological condition.
- Haseeb Ahmad - a diversity and inclusion lead at Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust and has a visual impairment.
- Naomi Harris - an occupational therapist at East London Healthcare Foundation Trust and has dyslexia.
- Emma Wood – a deputy CEO and director of people at Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and has a hidden disability.
- Listening to the voices of disabled staff - University Hospitals of Morecambe NHS Foundation Trust was just meeting legal requirements in relation to its equality practice. To address this, the trust set up a disability staff network to listen to the voices of disabled staff, which led to improved staff experience and NHS Staff Survey results.
- Supporting staff who are shielding during COVID-19 - Oxleas NHS Foundation Trust share how they engaged with managers and supported staff that were affected.
- Inclusive culture - North East London NHS Foundation Trust took steps to be a more inclusive organisation by improving it's recruitment processes, investing in staff networks and introducing a health passport for disabled staff and those with long-term health conditions.
- Speaking openly about mental health in the workplace
- My staff network journey
- Finding my voice to drive change
- Improving deaf awareness in the workplace
- Empowering disabled staff through flexible working
- Shielding homeworking and new ways of working
- My childhood hero and what he taught me about disability
- Hidden in plain sight - what three statues can teach us about Disability History Month
Join us during Disability History Month for our annual Disability Summit. The event will be held virtually over two days and will support those working across the health and care sector to lead the change by focusing on three main themes:
Data and objectives - creating an evidence base for change.
Inclusive recruitment and careers.
Making the health and social care sector a safe and welcoming place to work for disabled people.