NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) 2023: Metrics

Classification: Official
Publication reference: B1710-ii


The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is a data-based standard that uses a series of ten measures (metrics) to improve the experiences of Disabled staff in the NHS.

The metrics have been developed to capture information relating to the workplace and career experiences of Disabled staff in the NHS. Since the inception of the WDES in 2019, the annual data analysis reports have consistently shown that that Disabled staff have poorer experiences in areas such as harassment, bullying or abuse, career progression and feeling valued by their organisations.

All of the metrics draw from existing data sources (recruitment, staff records, NHS Staff Survey and local HR data) with the exception of metric 9b which asks for narrative evidence of actions taken. They are designed to be as simple and straightforward as possible.

The development of the WDES owes a great deal to the consultation and engagement with NHS key stakeholders, including Disabled staff, trade unions and senior leaders.


Provider trusts

The WDES is mandated by the NHS Standard Contract.

Changes for 2023

Two changes have been introduced in order to be consistent with the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), both in metric 1:

  1. Bank staff should be excluded.
  2. The definition of Very Senior Manager (VSM) has been matched to the WRES definition.

Summary of metrics

The following is a summary description of the metrics: more detailed information and advice is given in the technical guidance.


The first three metrics compare workforce data between Disabled and non-disabled staff.

Metric 1

Percentage of staff in Agenda for Change (AfC) pay-bands or medical and dental subgroups and very senior managers (including Executive Board members) compared with the percentage of staff in the overall workforce.

Organisations should undertake this calculation separately for non-clinical and clinical staff in clusters 1 to 4.

Cluster 1AfC Bands under 1, 1, 2, 3 and 4
Cluster 2AfC Bands 5, 6 and 7
Cluster 3AfC Bands 8a and 8b
Cluster 4AfC Bands 8c, 8d, 9 and VSM
Cluster 5Medical and Dental staff, consultants
Cluster 6Medical and Dental staff, non-consultant career grades
Cluster 7Medical and Dental staff, trainee grades


  1. Definitions for these categories are based on Electronic Staff Record occupation codes with the exception of medical and dental staff, which are based on grade codes.
  2. Bank staff should be excluded from these figures (to be consistent with the WRES data collection).
  3. VSMs are defined as including:
  • chief executives
  • executive directors, with the exception of those who are eligible to be on the consultant contract by virtue of their qualification and the requirements of the post
  • other senior managers with board level responsibility who report directly to the chief executive.

Non-executive directors should not be included.

Metric 2

Relative likelihood of non-disabled staff compared to Disabled staff being appointed from shortlisting across all posts.


  1. This refers to both external and internal posts.
  2. If your organisation implements a guaranteed interview scheme, the data may not be comparable with organisations that do not operate such a scheme.

Metric 3

Relative likelihood of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff entering the formal capability process on the grounds of performance, as measured by entry into the formal capability procedure.


  1. This metric will be based on data from a two-year rolling average of the current year and the previous year.
  2. This metric applies to capability on the grounds of performance only and not ill health.

NHS Staff Survey

The question or theme from the NHS Staff Survey which is used to calculate each metric is shown in brackets underneath the title.

Metric 4

(Relates to Q14a-d in the NHS Staff Survey)

Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from:

  1. Patients/Service users, their relatives or other members of the public
  2. Managers
  3. Other colleagues
  4. Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff saying that the last time they experienced harassment, bullying or abuse at work, they or a colleague reported it.

Metric 5

(Relates to Q15 in the NHS Staff Survey)

Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff believing that the Trust provides equal opportunities for career progression or promotion.

Metric 6

(Relates to Q11e in the NHS Staff Survey)

Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff saying that they have felt pressure from their manager to come to work, despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties.

Metric 7

(Relates to Q4b in the NHS Staff Survey)

Percentage of Disabled staff compared to non-disabled staff saying that they are satisfied with the extent to which their organisation values their work.

Metric 8

(Relates to Q30b in the NHS Staff Survey)

Percentage of Disabled staff saying that their employer has made reasonable adjustment(s) to enable them to carry out their work.

Note: Prior to 2022, the term “adequate adjustments” was used.

Metric 9a

(Relates to the staff engagement theme of the NHS Staff Survey, made up from Q2a, Q2b, Q2c, Q3c, Q3d, Q3f, Q23a, Q23c and Q23d in the NHS Staff Survey)

The staff engagement score for Disabled staff, compared to non-disabled staff.

Disabled staff engagement

Metric 9b

Has your Trust taken action to facilitate the voices of Disabled staff in your organisation to be heard (Yes or No)?

If yes, please provide at least one practical example of current action being taken in the relevant section of your WDES annual report.

If no, please include what action is planned to address this gap in your WDES annual report.

Board representation

For this metric, compare the difference for Disabled and non-disabled staff.

Metric 10

Percentage difference between the organisation’s board voting membership and its organisation’s overall workforce, disaggregated:

  • by voting and non-voting membership of the board
  • by executive and non-exec membership of the board.