Workforce Disability Equality Standard

NHS England launches the Workforce Disability Standard (WDES) metrics and resources

What is the Workforce Disability Equality Standard?

The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is a set of ten 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 the relevant NHS organisation to develop a local action plan, and enable them to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

The WDES is mandated through the NHS Standard Contract. It is restricted to NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts for the first two years of implementation.

The WDES metrics

There are 10 WDES metrics, which cover such areas as the Board, recruitment, bullying and harassment, engagement and the voices of Disabled staff.

The WDES resources for NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts

Resources have been developed to prepare and support NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts for the implementation of the WDES, which comes into force on 1 April 2019. Reporting the WDES Metrics will follow the same timetable as the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES).

The resources pack provides NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts with a range of tools and guidance.

  • The 10 WDES metrics are listed in this document.
  • The WDES Technical Guidance provides details of the metrics, reporting and policy context of the WDES. This document will be published shortly.
  • The WDES Quick guide to implementation outlines the pathway from preparation and reporting, to action planning and implementation.
  • The WDES factsheet outlines key WDES facts.
  • The WDES presentation includes key information about the WDES, and can be tailored by each NHS organisation for various audiences.
  • The WDES Online Frequently Asked Questions will provide answers to important questions and will be updated as and when new questions are raised.

WDES timetable

 Date Action
 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.
 August 2019 NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts publish the WDES Metrics and action plan on their websites.

Regional WDES workshops

We 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 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.

These will be of particular interest to 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. To book your place, please click on your nearest regional workshop below:

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 allow us to identify good practice and compare performance regionally and by type of trust.

Contact details

For further information please Email: england.wdes@nhs.net