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Part of Annual inclusion report 2021-22

Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES)

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Due to the impact of coronavirus (COVID-19), NHS Digital has not been required to submit a Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) for the financial year 2020/21.

The WDES differs from the WRES in that it includes a qualitative evidence questionnaire that looks at the interventions in place to address inequality.

  • overall workforce % by disability overall declaration rates have decreased slightly from 5.2% to 5.1%. Headcount numbers at lower bands have remained stable, however there has been a decrease in numbers at band 8A and above
  • relative likelihood of non-disabled staff being appointed from shortlisting compared to disabled staff has decreased from 0.76 to 0.24 (where 1.00 indicates parity). The non-declaration rate remains extremely high which impacts the validity of this statistic
  • relative likelihood of disabled staff entering the formal disciplinary process compared to non-disabled staff decreased from 0.75 to 0.593 (where 1.00 indicates parity). It must be noted that the very low numbers (less than 2) involved in this indicator make it sensitive
  • relative likelihood of disabled staff accessing non-mandatory training and CPD compared to non-disabled staff has decreased slightly from 1.01 to 1.00 (where 1.00 indicates parity)


The declaration data indicates that NHS Digital employment of disabled people is significantly below the rates within the wider population (5% versus 12%).

When considered alongside the decline in appointment rates and headcount data there is serious cause for concern. However, declaration rates do not necessarily provide accurate data relating to the actual percentage of disabled staff in NHS Digital.

We will continue to work to increase colleagues’ confidence in declaring disability status in order to improve the reliability of this data. 

Last edited: 10 February 2022 9:44 am