The London NHS region has the worst performance against race equality standards, despite having the largest black and minority ethnic workforce in England, a new report has found.
BME staff in London are twice as likely face disciplinary processes than white colleagues, according to the second annual workforce race equality standards report.
“Many employers still have much to do before the NHS can declare mission accomplished”
The region also had the highest percentage of BME staff experiencing harassment, bullying and abuse from patients, relatives and the public in last 12 months, at 30%. It also had the highest percentage of BME staff experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from colleagues in the last 12 months at 29%.
Compared to BME colleagues, white NHS employees in London are 1.8 times more likely to be appointed from a shortlist. The England average is 1.6. The South region also exceeded this at 1.7, according to analysis of the report by Health Service Journal.
Fifty-one per cent of staff in pay bands 1-4 in London are from BME backgrounds, as are 44% of staff in in middle grade bands. Only 11% of very senior managers in London are BME staff. The capital has the lowest proportion of BME staff in the country – 69% – who believe their trust provides equal opportunities for career progression and promotion.
The workforce race equality standards were introduced two years ago following a report in 2014 by Middlesex University research fellow Roger Kline, which exposed “glacial” change in the proportion of senior NHS positions held by people from BME backgrounds, with barely any improvement over eight years.
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As reported yesterday by Nursing Times, the latest report by the NHS Equality and Diversity Council shows some improvements, including the number of BME nurses and midwives who have moved from lower grades to more senior positions, as well as BME staff moving into senior management.
Data in the report is based on information published in the NHS staff survey in 2016, and trusts’ self-assessed performance against national indicators. It includes regional breakdowns of performance, and ranks trusts where data suggests practice is above and below average. The report also sets out what organisations that are starting to see continuous improvement in tackling discrimination are doing to achieve this success.
Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, said the report showed signs of progress in the NHS, but added: “No one should yet be comfortable or satisfied with what these figures show overall, and many employers still have much to do before the NHS can declare mission accomplished on this critical agenda.”
NHS in London failing on race equality standards
Speaking to Health Service Journal, regional chief nurse for London Professor Oliver Shanley said: “Many London NHS organisations are working hard to address the issues raised in this report, and we know there is good practice emerging across the capital.
“However we recognise that improvements are needed across the board to ensure workforce equality in London, where we have the most diverse workforce in the country,” he said.
He added: “Along with the action being taken at a national level, we continue to work closely with London’s NHS community to support improvements. We have already met with senior NHS leaders including HR directors, chief nurses, and the regional trade unions to discuss how we can support progress for all staff in this area.”
Bernell Bussue, the Royal College of Nursing’s London regional director, described the findings as a “badge of shame” for the capital.
“Despite being the most ethnically diverse region in the country, our NHS providers in the capital perform the worst when it comes to race equality,” he noted.
“It is time that the NHS and the wider health and social care sectors addressed the systematic and institutional racism that is blighting the personal and professional lives of our dedicated BME nursing staff,” he said.
“Unfortunately, too many organisations still do not take the matter of race discrimination seriously enough.” he said, calling for “real, concrete steps” to be taken to tackle the issue.
“It is no longer acceptable to sweep these failures under the carpet. All nursing staff deserve the right to work free of discrimination and employers must start delivering on that principle,” Mr Bussue added.