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Workforce disability equality standard (WDES)

The NHS Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) has taken another pivotal step to advance equality within the NHS. The council has recommended that a Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) should be mandated via the NHS standard contract in England from April 2018, with a preparatory year from 2017 to 2018.

Engagement on the proposed WDES has begun, alongside an extensive programme of communications and engagement to raise the profile of this initiative, coupled with ‘Making disability an asset’ and to outline what support will be provided to organisations to deliver the change with disabled staff.

Key areas of concern and differential experience for disabled staff

  • 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 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.

Workforce disability equality standard (WDES) reporting

The WDES is a set of ten evidenced based metrics that will enable NHS organisations to compare the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff. It came into effect on 1 April 2019, is mandated in the NHS standard contract and implemented by the National WDES team at NHS England.

RDaSH will be expected to publish its results and develop plans to address any discrepancies.  This will enable the trust to demonstrate progress against the metrics and introduce new measures and practices which will help improve workforce disability equality.

The trust will publish the report and action plan on an annual basis.

Access to work

What is access to work?

If you want to work but have a disability that makes working a problem, you may be able to get help from the access to work scheme. This provides practical advice and support to help you overcome work-related obstacles. It can also give you grants towards extra employment costs.

Examples of the kind of help available through access to work are:

  • a communicator, advocate or British Sign Language (BSL) interpreter for a job interview, if you’re Deaf or deaf or have communication difficulties
  • a support worker, such as a reader for somebody with a visual impairment; communicator for a Deaf or deaf person; a specialist job coach for a person with a learning difficulty; or a helper for personal care needs at work
  • specialist equipment (or alterations to existing equipment) to suit your particular needs
  • alterations to premises or a working environment to make it more accessible
  • help towards the additional costs of taxi fares if you cannot use public transport to get to work

Who can get help?

You can get help if all of the following apply:

  • you are disabled or have a long term health condition that impacts your ability to work and which is likely to last 12 months or more
  • you are aged 16 or over
  • you are living in Great Britain

and any of the following apply:

  • you need help at a job interview with an employer
  • you are about to start a job

More information on access to work can be found on the GOV.UK website (opens in a new window).

Page last reviewed: May 20, 2024
Next review due: May 20, 2025

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