NHS celebrates race equality ambassadors

England’s most senior NHS leaders have come together to recognise the work of staff leading the way in improving race equality across the health service.

Chief executive Simon Stevens and NHS Improvement chair Dido Harding yesterday joined more than 30 NHS employees who have successfully completed a programme to become Race Equality Experts.

The programme is part of the NHS’ Workforce Race Equality Standard programme, intended to ensure health service employees from black and ethnic minority backgrounds are treated fairly at work, and to close the gaps in treatment between them and white staff.

The 37 new WRES Experts – drawn from NHS staff working in different roles across the organisation – will help to ensure each part of the health service is helping to address inequalities between different groups of staff, and brings the total number of ambassadors for the WRES programme to more than 80.

Group photo of the new workforce race equality standard experts

Prerana Issar, Chief People Officer, NHS England said said: “Ensuring every member of NHS staff is treated fairly is the right thing for our staff and the right thing for our patients.

“The NHS Long Term Plan can only be delivered if we continue to have a world-class workforce. This is both about getting the right people to come and work at our NHS, and about ensuring that they are treated fairly and with respect. Equipping and enabling members of staff from across the organisation to take the lead in helping to achieve the race equality standards will ensure real change takes hold.”

Yvonne Coghill, Director of the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard said: “Today we celebrate these employees for their dedication and commitment to equality and to the WRES programme. They are now part of a growing network of professionals across the NHS who can advocate, oversee and champion the implementation of the WRES programme and improve the experiences of both BME staff and patients.

“With their knowledge and skills, we now have an additional set of experts tasked with working with a wide variety of staff, resources and research, aimed at improving the opportunities and experiences of black minority ethnic staff working across all levels of the NHS, they can truly make a difference to the system.”

WRES experts are voluntary roles, alongside their main job.

The newly qualified experts are employed in positions from HR and equality, project management and medical teams and now form part of an existing network of specialists working across the NHS in England.

The annual audit for the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) reviews the treatment of BME and white staff working for the NHS, measured across nine key metrics, including representation, experience of discrimination and access to senior roles.