The NHS Equality and Diversity Council announced on 31 July 2014 that it had agreed action to ensure employees from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace. The move followed a number of reports, which 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.
The Five Year Forward View sets out a clear direction for the NHS which depends upon it being innovative, engaging and respecting staff, and draws on the talent in our workforce. The link between the experience of staff and patient care is clear for BME staff in the NHS, so this is an issue for patient care, not just for staff. Yet it is clear that the NHS still has a lot to do to act on this.
As an individual NHS organisation, NHS England has committed itself to work to achieve the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES). To be successful and demonstrate leadership we need to collect, analyse and publish relevant workforce data. Our current staff barometer does not match the NHS national staff survey and therefore there will need to be some interpretation, certainly in the first year, as to how our own survey indicators are applied. These will need to be aligned much more closely and enable the measurement of the WRES metrics in a relevant way.
NHS England has been working to deliver on its Workplace Equality, Diversity and Inclusion strategy 2013 – 2015. This strategy described how we would aim to achieve our ambitions through a clear focus on five strategic themes:
- Leadership and culture
- Talent management and performance
We are currently carrying out a detailed examination of progress against the original strategy and, where progress has not matched the pace we desire, we are escalating both risks and mitigating actions. We are highlighting the importance of understanding data and social science techniques to acknowledge and effectively address inequalities in all that we do. Recognising the culture of employment shapes not only how the organisation looks, but also how it performs in the delivery of both strategy and commissioning of services, consequently affecting the population we serve.
Metrics and programmes that were not originally contained within the 2013 – 2015 strategy have since been embedded in the NHS Standard Contract such as the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) and the Equality Delivery System EDS2.
2015 is the year we will make strides to progress employment equality for people with a learning disability and for those from a black and minority background in recognition that if one of us is not equal, then none of us are equal.
The NHS England WRES reporting data offers where possible our response to the metrics.
NHS England will publish its Workforce Equality and Inclusion data across all protected characteristics annually on 1 July and we aim to present the data in a user friendly and transparent way. This helps us to use the data to make improvements and also assists applicants or health and social care partners to develop their understanding of our workforce and leadership.