Report sets out progress on race equality standards for all NHS trusts in England

A second annual report into race equality across the NHS has been published today (19 April).

The Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report publishes data from providers of NHS-funded care, including the voluntary and private sector, to demonstrate how they are addressing equality issues.

This year’s report includes for the first time data covering nine WRES indicators including four relating to the workplace covering recruitment, promotion, career progression and staff development alongside BME board representation. The remaining four indicators are based on data from the NHS staff survey 2016, covering harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives or the public.

It shows a positive change in a range of areas including the number of nurses and midwives who have progressed from lower grades into senior positions (band 5 entry level into bands 6 – 9); in BME representation at very senior management (VSM) and executive board level; and a slight reduction in the reported experience of discrimination of BME staff from colleagues and managers.

Joan Saddler, co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council and Associate Director at the NHS Confederation, said: “This report is a timely tool for leaders and workers on the frontline grappling with how to deliver person-centred care in an increasingly complex environment. It is crucial to the success of the NHS that we listen to people using services and enable diverse teams to deliver services efficiently and compassionately.

“That’s what this report is ultimately about. The report gives detailed baseline data about workforce race equality in specific organisations and we want to thank those organisations that are progressing well. The evidence also points to BME staff suffering in silence as they are absent at leadership levels or bullied disproportionately to the rest of the workforce. This is not acceptable and providers of NHS services and system partners need to improve in a planned and sustained way.”

Simon Stevens, Chief Executive of NHS England, and co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council said: “For the first time we have a full national picture of how equality standards are beginning to take effect, with some early signs of progress, and some organisations clearly showing what is possible. But no one should yet be comfortable or satisfied with what these figures show overall, and many employers still have much to do before the NHS can declare mission accomplished on this critical agenda.”

Key findings from the 2017 Workplace Race Equality Standard report:

  • BME nurses in bands 6 – 9 increased by 4,187 between 2014 and 2016.
  • BME staff remain significantly more likely to experience discrimination at work from colleagues and their managers, although the percentage of BME staff reporting that in the last 12 months they have personally experienced discrimination at work from staff fell slightly from 15% in 2014 to 14% in 2015.
  • BME staff remain less likely than white staff to believe that their trust provides equal opportunities for career progression. However, the gap between white and BME staff on this indicator fell from 14.5% in 2014 to 12.6% in 2015.
  • White and BME staff are equally likely to experience harassment, bullying or abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public in the last 12 months.
  • Very senior managers (VSMs) from BME backgrounds increased by 4% during 2015 -16, resulting in an additional nine appointments.
  • BME representation at executive board and VSM level remains significantly lower across workforce and in the local communities served.

Yvonne Coghill OBE, NHS England’s Director, Workforce Race Equality Standard Implementation, said: “This the second WRES report is an important marker of the progress the healthcare system in England is making on the important issue of workforce race equality. We fully realise there is a long way to go, however celebrating the achievements and progress that has been made in some sectors and regions is important. We will continue to work closely with the frontrunners on this agenda to identify what’s working and support those organisations that need additional input. The key thing is for all to meet the WRES objectives and ultimately reflect an NHS that is equitable and fair for everyone.”

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer for England and Senior Responsible Officer for WRES said: “I am pleased that some hospitals and trusts are making steady progress and ensuring black and minority ethnic nurses and midwives are not discriminated against and are equally appointed to senior banding grades. I am encouraged by the way in which NHS organisations are putting their minds to tackling the waste of talent that previous data has shown. There has been some marked improvement but more needs to be done”.

NHS England is supporting the WRES programme to identify and share best practice building on what trusts are doing to improve recruitment, board membership, and tackling disciplinary action and bullying of BME staff. This includes training and developing 75 champions based in trusts who help spread best practice and improve patient care.

Data in the WRES report is based on information captured from the NHS Staff Survey published in 2016, and self-assessed performance against the national indicators. It includes regional breakdowns of performance, and ranks trusts where data suggests practice is above and below average. The report also sets out early lessons on what organisations that are starting to see continuous improvement in tackling discrimination, are doing to achieve this success.

The aim is for results to be published annually in order to support organisations, particularly those with lower scores, to continuously improve standards, compare their performance with others in the same region or providing similar services. A series of practical guides to help organisations to improve standards will be published later this year.