Collecting and analysing WDES data

Paul Deemer

Paul Deemer, Head of Diversity and Inclusion at NHS Employers talks about the new Workforce Disability Equality Standard and why it is vital that pay and reward colleagues collect and analyse data to support this.

2019 is going to be a massive year for staff with disabilities working in the NHS. As a result of a new ten-point metric - the Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES),  there is going to be a sustained and targeted focus on the experiences of disabled staff working in the NHS. The interim people plan, published by NHS England/Improvement in June sets out the important interventions that improve the experience of staff, and how the development of a new offer should explicitly set out the support they can expect from the NHS as a modern employer. Improving equality through the new offer to all NHS staff will require action to embed the Workforce Race Equality Standard and Workforce Disability Equality Standard.

It is important for pay and reward colleagues to work with their HR and workforce information colleagues on collecting and analysing data relating to disabled staff to help understand the issues affecting their workforce.

What is the WDES?

Building on the success and learning from the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), the WDES will follow a similar pattern and ask all provider and foundation trusts to report and publish their data by 1 August 2019. Full details of the WDES, along with links to the technical guidance and supporting materials, are now available.

The WDES looks to compare the representation of disabled and non-disabled staff across organisations, alongside their experiences in terms of capability processes, harassment and bullying procedures and overall staff engagement. Initial feedback from the pilot sites and various engagement events indicate three key issues the NHS will face:

  • Data -  we know that disabled staff can be reluctant to declare their disability to their employer for a variety of reasons. National data tells us that whilst only 3 per cent of staff are formally recorded on ESR as having a disability – in the Staff Survey closer to 18 per cent of staff declare themselves as having a disability. Therefore, the starting point of any awareness/promotion campaign for the WDES has to start with a focus on increasing confidence. The confidence of staff with disabilities to disclose this to their colleagues and managers, and the confidence of those colleagues and managers to then respond sensitively and appropriately.
  • Development opportunities - analysis of staff survey data tells us that many disabled staff feel that they are not afforded the same development opportunities as non-disabled staff. So this is an area that we know organisations and managers need to focus on.
  • Reasonable adjustments - once a disability is declared, we know that the next critical step is ensuring that any necessary adjustments are identified and (crucially) implemented. So we need to ensure that managers understand their responsibilities when it comes to reasonable adjustments and have access to sources of advice.  

As a follow-up to our regional workshops which took place earlier in the year, NHS Employers and NHS England jointly hosted a series of four share and learn webinars to help provide further support with the implementation of the new WDES.

The interim people plan highlights that “action to improve equality will need to run through all elements of the work on this new offer. This will include further action to embed the Workforce Race Equality Standard and Workforce Disability Equality Standard.”

Our supporting disability in the workplace web pages have more information and support for employers.

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