NHS England takes action to improve race equality across the NHS workforce

NHS England has this week announced action to improve race equality across the NHS workforce.

The move follows recent reports that have highlighted disparities in the number of BME people in senior leadership positions across the NHS, as well as lower levels of wellbeing amongst the BME population.

From April 2015, NHS organisations across the country will be required to demonstrate progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to ensure that boards are representative of the communities they serve.

Guidance for the new standard – called the Workforce Race Equality Standard – has been published this week.

Alongside the standard, the NHS Equality Delivery System (EDS2) will also become mandatory. This is a toolkit that aims to help organisations improve the services they provide for their local communities and provide better working environments for all groups.

The standard and the EDS2 will be included in the 2015/16 Standard NHS contract. NHS regulators – the Care Quality Commission, Trust Development Agency and Monitor – will use both of these to help assess whether NHS organisations are well-led.

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, said: “The Five Year Forward View sets out a direction of travel for the NHS – much of which depends on the health service embracing innovation, engaging and respecting staff, and drawing on the immense talent in our workforce.

“We know that care is far more likely to meet the needs of all the patients we’re here to serve when NHS leadership is drawn from diverse communities across the country, and when all our frontline staff are themselves free from discrimination. These new mandatory standards will help NHS organisations to achieve these important goals.”

Roger Kline, Research Fellow at Middlesex University Business School, who led the development of the standard, said: “The evidence is clear that treating all healthcare staff fairly and with respect is good for patient care.  When black and minority ethnic staff, who make up a large minority of nurses, doctors and other NHS staff, are treated fairly it improves patient experience and patient safety. The Workforce Race Equality Standard encourages, and where necessary requires, all NHS providers to treat all black and minority ethnic staff fairly and ensure their full talents are used. It is good news for patients and for staff that NHS organisations have adopted this ground breaking evidence-based approach.”

See the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard webpage for more information.
For enquiries about the Workforce Race Equality Standard, please email


  1. Annastacia says:

    As it happens, there is a capital transition programme designed to develop NHS staff on band 6 and 7 from groups that are underrepresented at more senior levels and those that want to develop themselves as more inclusive leaders. Sadly, this programme was cancelled a couple of weeks ago just few weeks before it even commenced because of funding challenges.
    Change really needs to happen in this area and agreed there might be other ways of making it happen but if programmes like this don’t get funded and/or maybe supported, it may take a while.

  2. Jo says:

    Its been too long coming…………………. but glad it’s finally been recognised and talk will be put into practice.

  3. Keith Shillam says:

    Re: ‘disparities in the number of BME people in senior leadership positions across the NHS’

    I recently received a request for a report related to this. I felt bound to point out that, since to get to these positions most of the staff concerned would have had to commence their careers many years ago, for any comparison to be valid the data wold have to be compared with the demographics of the population at the point in time at which they commenced their careers. This needs to be taken into consideration here.

  4. Alan Gately says:

    How does NHS staff members attending the above rally just 13 days ago tie-in with good race relations?
    I work for the NHS, am anti-Pegida and have completed my equality & diveristy training – it would appear some NHS staff are not and haven’t!