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 and career experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. NHS organisations use the metrics data to develop and publish an action plan, building on high impact actions shared in the first ever EDI improvement plan. Year on year comparison enables NHS organisations to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality to create the cultures of belonging and trust that will improve retention, recruit from the widest possible talent pool and provide sustainable careers.

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 puts data into the hands of people in NHS organisations who best understand  the experiences of their disabled staff and how to make positive change. A more inclusive environment for disabled people working and seeking employment in the NHS is better for our people, for teams and for patients.

WDES 2023 data collection and the reporting framework

The WDES 2023 reporting timeline ran from 1 May until 31 May for NHS provider trusts and required metrics and narrative data to be reported via the WDES data collection framework (DCF) introduced in 2021. By 31 October 2023, trusts must publish their board ratified 2023 WDES annual report on their website.

National healthcare organisations are not mandated by the WDES, but may report metrics data and publish WDES annual reports in the spirit of transparency.

The analysis of data and published annual reports will enable a comparative data analysis across all trusts and national healthcare organisations.

Date Event
April 2023 Organisations review their datasets, declaration rates and most recently published WDES Annual report.
1 May 2023 WDES data collection period opens.
31 May 2023 WDES data collection period closes for provider trusts.
31 October 2023 Organisations publish their WDES 2023 annual report (which contains the metrics report) and WDES action plan on their website.

WDES annual report 2023

The WDES annual report 2023 is based on analysis from NHS trust and foundation trusts 2020 to 2021 data returns. It provides us with the latest opportunity to compare year on year progress into the career and workplace experiences of NHS disabled staff. This report provides a summary of the 2022 national data analysis and presents key findings, recommendations for continued focus and actions by trusts, regions and the national teams at NHS England.

At a national level, the evidence clearly highlights that many disabled staff continue to experience inequalities in the workplace when compared to their non-disabled colleagues. The analysis demonstrates the continued need for trusts to take robust action, with monitoring and evaluation, to ensure that progress takes place and that ongoing work programmes support positive change.

NHS disabled staff experiences during COVID-19 report

In the first wave of the COVID-19, the WDES team worked in partnership with NHS Employers and ran a survey to find out what impact the pandemic was having on the workplace experience of NHS disabled staff. An NHS disabled staff experiences during COVID-19 report has been produced which provides analysis of the survey data, details key findings and recommendations.

Previous WDES annual reports 2022

WDES 2023 resources for NHS organisations

These resources are to support NHS organisations in year four of the WDES and provide a range of information, tools and guidance.

  • The WDES 2023 technical guidance provides details of the metrics, reporting and policy context of the WDES.
  • The WDES 2023 metrics cover such areas as the Board, recruitment, bullying and harassment, engagement and the voices of disabled staff.
  • The WDES 2023 quick guide to implementation outlines the pathway from preparation and reporting, to action planning and implementation.
  • The WDES 2023 factsheet outlines key WDES facts.
  • A series of webinars and guidance. The webinars have been recorded so that people can ‘listen again’ and view the guidance online.

Contact details

For further information please email: