Workforce Disability Equality Standard

NHS England launches the Workforce Disability Standard (WDES)

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. NHS organisations will use the Metrics data and local data to develop a local action plan and enable them to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

The WDES has been 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 and is restricted to NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts for the first two years of implementation.

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

The WDES 2019 Mandatory Reporting Arrangements

NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts complete and submit a WDES Data spreadsheet via the SDCS and complete a WDES Online Reporting form by 1 August. The information gathered from these reporting activities will form the basis of the evidence required to support the development and publication of the NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts Metrics Report and Action Plan. Trusts will be encouraged to involve Disabled staff in the development of the Action Plan and seek their views of any actions which directly affect them

Support to NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts in Year 1

Eleven regional workshops and a series of webinars have been held to support NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts with the WDES implementation. The webinars covered a range of topics

  • Line management and the recruitment and retention of Disabled Staff
  • Improving Disability declaration rates
  • The role of Senior Leaders in supporting workplace Disability
  • Developing WDES Action Plans

The webinars have been recorded so that Trusts can ‘listen again’ and view the presentations online.

Later this year we will be publishing the first WDES National Annual data report that will compare Metrics performance data across all Trusts and will highlight good practice and initiatives that support Disabled staff in the health system.

The WDES resources for NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts

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

WDES timetable

 Date Action
 June – 1 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.
 By 30 September 2019 NHS Trusts and Foundation Trusts publish the WDES Metrics and action plan on their websites which have been ratified by the Board.
Winter 2019 First WDES National Annual data report published.

Contact details

For further information please email: