Newly qualified nurses from minority ethnic groups are “disadvantaged” when it comes to getting a nursing job in London, ground breaking research has found.
The odds of obtaining job offers are significantly lower for newly qualified nurses from some minority ethnic groups, according to researchers, which they described as “clearly unsatisfactory”.
Previous research has suggested internationally recruited ethnic minority nurses are disadvantaged in employment opportunities. But this is the first to explore whether the issue also affects newly qualifieds from minority ethnic groups that have undertaken nursing education in this country.
The study involved 1,047 newly qualified nurses graduating from eight universities in London.
It showed that the odds of receiving an offer of employment by the time of qualification were lower than white British nurses for all the minority ethnic groups studied.
But the results were most striking for black African and Asian/Chinese ethnic groups, where the odds of having a job offer were half or less that of students of white British origin.
The study authors said the findings raised some “very important questions” about what factors influenced employment opportunities for newly qualified nurses from non-white and ethnic groups.
They questioned whether higher education institutions were giving minority ethnic students enough support, noting in particular help with interview technique.
They also said it was important to consider the influence of the nurse recruitment process itself, highlighting that senior NHS management posts were dominated by white British people, and “therefore possibly….interview panels for nursing posts as well, which may influence recruitment”.
The authors said: “This study has demonstrated that minority ethnicity does lead to employment disadvantage, both for the individual and for the diversity of the workforce that is dealing with diverse needs in its patient population.
“Underneath there are persistent and difficult issues that universities and NHS employers need to tackle together.”
NHS Commissioning Board chief nursing officer Jane Cummings said she was “disappointed” by the findings and warned that “discrimination in any form is unacceptable and illegal”.
“Nursing leaders at all levels should be aware of the need to provide equality of access to jobs and opportunities for all staff.”
Ms Cummings said she was working closely with her BME advisory group, the Royal College of Nursing’s BME group and the NHS Confederation to address issues affecting minority ethnic nurses and midwives.
“Together, we are identifying a range of work to support BME nurses and midwives and to promote the huge benefits of a diverse nursing community,” she said.
The study, published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies, forms part of a research programme on factors affecting newly qualified nurses in the capital.
It was commissioned by the strategic health authority NHS London following concerns from nursing directors and educators on a range of issues affecting newly qualifieds, including competency, attrition, mentorship and equality.
A spokesman for the SHA said: “NHS London welcomes this early work that was commissioned by our chief nurse, Professor Trish Morris Thompson, and will be integrating the initial findings into education commissioning plans.
“We also welcome the valuable contribution this work makes towards improving the quality of our future nursing welfare and ultimately patient care.”
In a separate report, published last week, the Royal College of Midwives said black midwives made up a disproportionate number of those facing disciplinary proceedings in London.
Using the Freedom of Information Act, the college requested information on disciplinary proceedings at 24 trusts in the capital over a 12 month period ending in June 2011.
While 32% of midwives in London were black/black British, 60% of the midwives disciplined were black/black British.
The RCM said its data also suggested there were harsher penalties for minority ethnic staff. Of the 10 midwives dismissed during the 12 months, all were black/black British.
RCM chief executive Cathy Warwick said the findings were a “real cause for concern”.
An NHS London spokesman said the SHA would look “very closely at the data collated”.