The Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) is a data-based standard that uses a series of measures to help improve the experiences of staff with a disability in the workplace. The WDES slightly differs from the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) with ten metrics, whilst WRES has nine. Amongst its measures, WDES focuses on:
a. staff engagement or networks for staff, with a disability, compared to staff without a disability and the overall engagement score for the organisation; and
b. the action taken by the trust to facilitate the voice of staff with a disability.
The programme of activity co-created and co-designed at Barts Health, is linked, and relates to our People strategy and Inclusion strategy, with the aim of supporting our ambition to become a leading and inclusive employer. When Barts Health published its WDES information in the first year July 2019, we were proud to be one of the pioneering trust’s to be involved in the early development and piloting of the implementation of WDES in 2016/17.
We know from our electronic staff records (ESR) and NHS staff survey results that there is a disparity in declaration rates for disability i.e. based on 2018 workforce information, 2% state they have a disability on ESR, whilst 12% on NHS Staff survey. This showed a 10% gap. The trust is seeking to raise awareness and dispel myths.
Results of the annual NHS staff survey show that staff with a disability consistently report higher levels of bullying and harassment and less satisfaction with appraisals and career development opportunities.
In this year’s reporting on the WDES we have recognised the impact that Covid-19 has had on our colleague’s and their health and wellbeing. In July 2020, our trust board committed to a comprehensive programme to become a truly inclusive organisation for everyone and this provides a great ambition for our WDES programme which will be delivered through our Inclusion centre.
With visible leadership and continued engagement with our colleague’s through our Staff Disability Network – BartsAbility, staff webinars, listening to staff stories and so on, throughout the year 2020, this has contributed towards improvement reported in this year’s WDES report and the actions planned for the coming year. Some of our achievements include:
a. Raising the awareness of reasonable adjustments for all staff
b. Dedicated centralised ‘revenue’ budget for reasonable adjustments
c. Delivery of virtual disability equality awareness training sessions
d. Culture change campaign aimed at normalising difference and
e. Review of policies and practices
In line with the trust’s commitment towards disability equality, which also sits at the heart of our WeBelong Inclusion Strategy and People plan, the following reports provide further information on implementing workplace disability equality at Barts Health group of hospitals.