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.

19 November 2021

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.

2021 reporting

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