Workforce Disability Equality Standard

What is the Workforce Disability Equality Standard?

The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is a set of ten specific measures (Metrics) which enables NHS organisations to compare the workplace experiences of Disabled and non-disabled staff. NHS organisations use the Metrics data to develop an action plan and enable them to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

The WDES was commissioned by the Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) and developed through a pilot and extensive engagement with NHS Trusts and key stakeholders. It is mandated through the NHS Standard Contract.

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 WDES will enable NHS organisations to better understand the experiences of their Disabled staff. It will support positive change for all existing employees and enable a more inclusive environment for Disabled people working in the NHS. It will also allow us to identify good practice and compare performance on a national and regional basis and by type and size of a trust/organisation.

WDES annual report 2019

The WDES Annual Report 2019 provides the first national review of the NHS workforce that relates to the workplace representation and career experiences of Disabled staff.

The detailed data analysis and evidence base allows NHS trusts to benchmark their 10 WDES metrics data by trust type and trust size as well as on a local, regional and national level basis. The baseline data and analysis can be used as a measuring tool to enable trusts to understand where progress has taken place and where improvements need to be made.

At a national level, the evidence clearly highlights disparities between the experiences of Disabled and non-disabled staff across the 10 metrics. The analysis therefore demonstrates the need for trusts to take robust action, with monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that progress takes place and to embed the WDES into ongoing work programmes that support positive change.

WDES resources for NHS organisations

Resources have been developed to support NHS Organisations with the implementation of the WDES and to provides a range of information, tools and guidance.

Contact details

For further information please email: