The NHS constitution requires the NHS to provide a comprehensive service available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, gender reassignment, parental status or marital or civil partnership status.
To me, this is as clear as it gets, but unfortunately inequality and discrimination are ever-present in our NHS and many of us are not aware of it.
Despite the introduction of the Race Equality Action Plan in 2004 I believe we are no further forwards - the statistics show that the situation is getting worse not better, with falling numbers of BME managers.
Without the contribution of BME staff the NHS would have collapsed by now. The NHS has a highly diverse workforce but as Roger Kline demonstrates in the Snowy White Peaks report, BME staff at all levels are still grossly under-represented, particularly at senior levels.
The gap between the diversity of the local population and workforce is astonishing and the Snowy White Peaks report showed that there is a clear link between the treatment of BME staff and the quality of patient care.
Yet things are changing, and we have a golden opportunity to stop talking and start acting but everybody needs to stand up and take action to drive change forward.
With Simon Stevens as the new CEO of NHS England, for the first time I can see positive change ahead. A Workforce Race Equality Standard is to be introduced next April, requiring organisations to demonstrate progress against a number of indicators that measure workforce equality.
Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England, is taking steps to tackle the issue and has committed to putting equality and diversity at the heart of nursing practice.
But while things are happening at the top we still have a responsibility to start to acting on the frontline. As BME staff we need to believe in our potential. It is time to take responsibility and ask yourself what you personally can do to create a better NHS.
Do not wait for things to change, initiate that change and make the first step happen; it is the only way to move from where we are to where we want to be.
Joan Pons Laplana