Embedding the Workforce Disability Equality Standard

Learn about the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) and access guidance and resources to help you support staff with disabilities.

6 September 2023

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