What is the Workforce Disability Equality Standard

The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is a set of specific measures that will enable all NHS commissioned services to compare the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. At MCH, we will then use this information to develop a local action plan, and to demonstrate progress against the indicators of disability equality.

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 us to better understand the experiences of our disabled staff. It will support positive change for existing employees, and enable a more inclusive environment for disabled people working in the NHS. Like WRES,it will also allow us to identify good practice and compare performance regionally.

Background - key areas of concern and differential experience for disabled staff across the NHS

  • Concerns about staff with disabilities' representation at all levels of the NHS and covering different types of disability.
  • A significant disparity between the proportion of staff who declare a disability on the Electronic Staff Record system (ESR) and of those who declare a disability on the anonymous NHS staff survey.
  • Differential perceptions about how well disabled staff feel they supported by managers
  • Differential experience of bullying and harassment by peers and managers with disabled staff reporting significantly higher rates than their non-disabled counterparts.
  • Differential levels of confidence for staff with disabilities compared to non-disabled staff with regard to both the value of appraisals and how they feel valued by their organisations.
  • Potential issues for disabled staff with differential levels of access to training and development as non-disabled staff.
  • Variation in whether and how well NHS organisations make reasonable adjustments for staff with disabilities, from the recruitment process to the end of employment.
  • Differential numbers of staff with disabilities who are the subject of employment processes and procedures, for example disciplinary and capability processes.

Next steps for Working Disability Equality Standard

  • Autumn 2018: Publication of the WDES
  • Autumn/Winter 2018: NHS organisations will review their data and reporting against the metrics
  • August 2019: First WDES reports to be published in August 2019 by NHS England, based on data from the 2018/19 financial year.
  • April/May 2020: First national WDES annual report published by NHS England

If you would like more information, please speak to Kim Reynolds on kimberley.reynolds@nhs.net