NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard

Implementing the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) is a requirement for NHS commissioners and NHS healthcare providers including independent organisations, through the NHS standard contract.

The NHS Equality and Diversity Council announced on 31 July 2014 that it had agreed action to ensure employees from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace.

This is important because studies shows that a motivated, included and valued workforce helps deliver high quality patient care, increased patient satisfaction and better patient safety.

In April 2015, after engaging and consulting with key stakeholders including other NHS organisations across England, the WRES was mandated through the NHS standard contract, starting in 2015/16. From 2017, independent healthcare providers are required to publish their WRES data.

The first WRES report, was published in June 2016, followed by the 2016 WRES report on 19 April 2017. In the first two years, there have been improvements in some trusts, although a number of organisations still have a long way to go. The 2017 and 2018 WRES data reports showed a trend of continued improvement in a number of areas, but there is still much work to do in some trusts, sectors and parts of the NHS.

The 2023 WRES data report compares data from previous years to assess trends.

NHS providers are expected to show progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to address the low numbers of BME board members across the organisation.

The first phase of the WRES focused on supporting the system to understand the nature of the challenge of workforce race equality and for leaders to recognise that it was their responsibility to help make the necessary changes.

WRES phase two

The next phase of the WRES will focus on enabling people to work comfortably with race equality. Through communications and engagement, we will work to change the deep rooted cultures of race inequality in the system, learn more about the importance of equity, to build capacity and capability to work with race.

Continuous embedding of accountability to ensure key policies have race equality built into their core, so that eventually workforce race becomes everyday business.

The WRES will continue to work to evidence the outcomes of the work that is done, publishing data intelligence and supporting the system by sharing replicable good practice.

With over one million employees, the NHS is mandated to show progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to address the low numbers of BME board members across the organisation.

Alongside WRES, NHS organisations use the Equality and Diversity Systems (EDS2) to help in discussion with local partners including local populations, review and improve their performance for people with characteristics protected by the Equality Act 2010. By using the EDS2 and the WRES, NHS organisations can also be helped to deliver on the Public Sector Equality Duty.

More information to help you understand the WRES, downloadable information, videos and EDS2 can be found in our resources section.

WRES reporting

From 2018, WRES data is collected through the NHS Digital Strategic Data Collection Service (SDCS), which replaced UNIFY 2 the previous platform.

Get in touch

If you have questions about the WRES Programme, please contact the National WRES Implementation Team england.wres@nhs.net.