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.
NHS trusts and foundation trusts are required to submit annually to NHS England and NHS Improvement their workforce disability data. The data collection period opened on 1 July 2021 and closed on 31 August 2021. Visit NHS England and NHS Improvement to learn more about WDES reporting.
In addition, trusts are required to publish on their website by 31 October 2021 - this includes their WDES annual report which should contain their organisation’s data for each metric, their WDES action plan and details of progress.
Trusts are encouraged to work with disabled staff and networks to review progress with their WDES action plans and identify what further work is needed to enable a more inclusive environment for disabled colleagues.
2020 WDES annual report
The 2020 Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) national report for NHS trusts and foundation trusts is based on the analysis of their 2019 and 2020 data returns. It provides the first opportunity to compare year on year progress into the career and workplace experiences of NHS disabled staff.
The data is measured against ten metrics and compares the working and career experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff, presenting a baseline against which future improvements can be measured.
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.
- 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.