There is no doubt that the pandemic has had a disproportionate effect on black Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff and patients and we, along with the whole of the NHS, are taking action to address this. Simultaneously, protests have taken place around the world as part of the Black Lives Matter movement calling for an end to racism. The NHS is against racism and we will continue to support our leaders to speak out against it ensuring we reflect our diverse workforce and patients.
The NHS relies on talent and people from all around the world to make it work.
Seven decades since being established, the NHS has arguably the most diverse workforce in England and is the largest employer of BAME people in Europe. With 20% plus of its workforce from a diverse background, that is a bigger representation in the NHS than in the entire UK population. We have much to be proud of and much to learn.
2020 and the outbreak of COVID-19 has presented the NHS with the biggest challenge it has ever faced. Our NHS people continue to do extraordinary things. In the face of extraordinary challenges, people must be a priority.
In the last three months, we have learnt more about the differences in experience faced by various groups in the NHS and we have adapted to meet those needs. Urgent measures have been put in place to protect staff, increase engagement with staff and staff networks, review of representation in decision making, rehabilitation and recovery and increasing BAME representation in the media.
While working to achieve these goals, we have formed new relationships – with communities through targeted messaging, we have supported and been supported by colleagues in the third sector and have been reminded of the need for inclusion. We may all be working to the same goals, but we all come from different places.
- YouTube: Dr Nikki Kanani No.10 press briefing Wednesday 6 May (time stamp – 22.29 onwards)
- Twitter: Video thanking BAME staff
- NHS England: Ramadan blog by Dr Habib Naqvi
- Twitter: Eid messaging
Through programmes like the workforce race equality standard (WRES), the NHS has been working to ensure colleagues of different backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace. We have made improvements but we recognise there is still more we can do.
Employing people with lived experience in health and care means our workforce better reflects those we serve, so is better able to understand our communities and address their needs. For individuals, it can improve health and well-being, increase social inclusion and contribute to financial independence.
NHS England and NHS Improvement are celebrating five years of people with lived experience working nationally on learning disability and autism policy. They employ nine people with lived experience at a strategic level. This includes two new, more senior, roles for people with a learning disability, autistic people and family carers. People with lived experience are working to improve access to high quality healthcare and tackling health inequalities – priorities in the NHS Long Term Plan. People are employed in national roles working alongside clinical and other managers and directors – probably the largest number of people employed because of their lived experience of disability at a senior level in any public sector organisation anywhere.
120 NHS organisations have made a pledge to employ more people with a learning disability.
- Hear Katie Matthews, Learning Disability Network Manager at NHS England talk about employing people with a learning disability
- Find out from Jemma at NHS City Healthcare Partnership CIC how getting into paid employment has improved her life
We estimate there are currently 250,000 carers working in the NHS, many of them are aged between 45 to 64 and are among our most experienced staff. We also know from Carers UK that BAME carers provide more care than average. During COVID-19, we know that all carers are providing more care than before, possibly supporting neighbours and relatives who are shielding or vulnerable. These resources will provide much needed support now and in the future.
Resources for carers are now available online to support all our NHS people.
The resources include:
- The carers passport – a tool for line managers and carers to use to support 1:1 discussions
- Resources for carers, including videos and guides on how to manage workload and wellbeing
- Access to a range of resources for carers and line managers via the Employers for Carers Portal, helping support carers to balance personal and professional commitments (access will be granted by local ICS/STP reps, line managers and/or HR teams).
It is so amazing how far support for carers has come, about a year ago I had my resignation written, ready to leave the NHS because I felt unable to manage work and my caring responsibilities! Look at where we are now. What a difference this will make for the thousands of NHS staff balancing work and care.
Sarah Broadhead-Crofts, NHS Project Manager
Liam Slattery, Director of People at Barts Health and joint chair of carers network explains how Barts is helping their staff who have caring responsibilities: