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Nurses criticise report for lack of focus on BME nursing staff in the NHS

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The Royal College of Nursing has criticised a report on improving opportunities for black and minority (BME) staff in the NHS because it does not contain data about nurses.

The proportion of BME staff in NHS middle management has increased from 7.3% in 2007 to 10.1% in 2008, according to the report from the NHS Institute for Innovation and Improvement.

However this is still below the national population average of 12.1%, with representation at senior management level lagging further behind at 8.3%, according to the report Access of BME Staff to Senior Positions in the NHS.

But Peter Carter, general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, said: ‘It is a matter of significant regret that nursing positions have been left out of this research.

‘Surely nursing needs to be properly addressed if we are to remove the obstacles to a truly equal and diverse NHS.’

Barriers to staff progressing through the ranks include undervaluing of relevant experience and overseas qualifications and circumvention of procedures when appointing part-time staff.

Individuals were also found to be held back by a lack of mentors and role models, stereotyping and preconceptions of roles and abilities and exclusion from informal networks and communication.

Kate Lobley, head of building leadership capacity at the institute, said: ‘We must work together across the NHS to understand best practice and drive improvement, ensuring genuine integration and advancement for this group of staff.'

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