NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard

NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard

What is the NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard?

The NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) comes into force on 1 April 2019 and is a set of specific measures (metrics) that will enable NHS organisations to compare the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. This information will then be used by organisations to develop a local action plan, and enable them to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

Making a difference for disabled staff

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.

The implementation of the WDES will enable NHS trusts and foundation trusts to better understand the experiences of their disabled staff. It will support positive change for existing employees, and enable a more inclusive environment for disabled people working in the NHS. Like the Workforce Race Equality Standard on which the WDES is in part modelled, it will also identify good practice and compare performance regionally and by type of trust.

WDES implementation resources launched

A suite of resources have been developed to prepare and support NHS trusts and foundation trusts with the implementation of the WDES, these include:

  • the ten metrics - detailing the specifics of each metric which covers areas such as the board, recruitment, bullying and harassment, engagement and the voices of disabled staff.
  • a factsheet - providing key information on what the WDES is, why it has been created, who needs to report and the timetable.
  • FAQs - an online resource of more detailed questions and answers which will be updated on a regular basis
  • a quick guide to implementation - including key actions from preparation and reporting, to action planning and implementation.
  • a presentation - use this resource to brief and engage with your board or staff - this can be tailored to suit your audience
  • an updated timetable (detailed at the bottom of this web page) 
  • technical guidance which provides details of the metrics, reporting and policy context.

Regional WDES workshops

NHS England are facilitating a series of regional workshops to introduce the WDES, the metrics, reporting and key areas for improving the experiences of disabled staff in the NHS. The workshops will be especially suitable for equality leads, human resources and organisational development leads and those with any responsibility for ensuring that the WDES is implemented within NHS trusts and foundation trusts.  The workshops will cover:

  • statistics and background information on the WDES
  • the WDES in the first year of implementation
  • improving the disability declaration rate
  • practical steps – reporting and the WDES timetable
  • discussion on each of the Metrics
  • involving disabled staff/networks
  • involving the board
  • action planning.

To book your place please click on your nearest regional workshop below:

East Midlands WDES workshop – 25 February 2019 - COMPLETED
London WDES workshop 1  – 1 March 2019 - COMPLETED 
North West WDES workshop – 4 March 2019 - COMPLETED
London WDES workshop 2 – 5 March 2019 - COMPLETED
Yorkshire and Humber WDES workshop – 18 March 2019 - COMPLETED
North East WDES workshop - 19 March 2019 - COMPLETED
West Midlands WDES workshop – 21 March 2019 - COMPLETED
South West WDES workshop - 28 March 2019 - COMPLETED
London WDES workshop 3 - 3 April 2019 AM - COMPLETED
London WDES workshop 4 - 3 April 2019 PM - COMPLETED
East of England WDES workshop - 17 April 2019 PM


Disability Summit 2019 - Changing mindsets, embracing change

With the launch of the WDES, 2019 is a key year for workforce disability in the NHS. Building on the success of previous events, the 2019 Disability Summit will seek to galvanise action around issues affecting staff with disabilities across the NHS. We will be holding our fourth Disability Summit on 30 April 2019 in London.  Visit the event page to find out more information and to book your place.


WDES Timetable 



January/March 2019

NHS trusts and foundation trusts review their datasets and declaration rates

May/June 2019

NHS England will publish the WDES online reporting form on the NHS England website and will send NHS trusts and foundation trusts a pre-populated WDES spreadsheet.

June/August 2019

NHS trusts and foundation trusts:

-  complete the pre-populated WDES spreadsheet and submit data to NHS England 
    via the Strategic Data Collection Service

-  complete and submit the WDES online reporting form.

Reporting data covers 1 April 2018 to 31 March 2019.

By 1 August 2019

NHS trusts and foundation trusts publish the WDES metrics and action plan on their websites.

Further information

Visit the NHS England website for additional information on the Workforce Disability Equality Standard or email england.wdes@nhs.net.

For guidance on the various types of employment related disabilities take a look at our disability confident, workforce disability, learning disabilities, deaf awareness and stammering web pages.

Latest Tweets

Latest Blog Post

Tapping into the lived experience of BME staff

15 / 5 / 2019 7.30am

Dr Habib Naqvi reflects on the links between the Workorce Race Equality Standard, workforce representation, staff engagement and patient satisfaction.

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