NHSEI Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) report shows employers generally moving in the right direction

Paul Deemer responds to the NHS England and NHS Improvement 2021 annual Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) Report.

10 May 2022

NHS England and NHS Improvement have published their 2021 annual Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) Report.
This is the third WDES annual report and covers NHS trusts and NHS foundation trusts, which measures data against ten metrics that analyses the experiences of disabled and non-disabled staff working in the NHS.
The report highlights that the proportion of disabled staff at very senior manager level has increased to 3.4% in 2021, from 2.8% in 2020, and 1.6% in 2019.

Disabled staff also report feeling less engaged with their organisation, with an engagement score of 6.68, compared to 7.15 for non-disabled staff.
Commenting on the report Paul Deemer, head of diversity and inclusion at NHS Employers, part of the NHS Confederation said, “The national WDES report shows that employers are generally moving in the right direction in terms of proactively addressing the needs and requirements of their disabled staff.
“However, there are clearly areas where more needs to be done, including in attracting more disabled people into the NHS and ensuring they feel able to have open conversations with their managers and within their organisation about their disability.

“Another barrier discouraging disabled people from applying to work in the NHS is the narrow definition and categorisation used in both recruitment through NHS Jobs and the NHS Electronic Staff Record system. The definitions listed are not comprehensive and therefore do not enable disabled people to select the appropriate disability on the system, this can prevent people from declaring their disability.
“These national systems need to be modified so that current and future disabled employees can fully define themselves at work, and employers can better understand how to meet their needs.”