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New NHS race equality rules 'causing trusts problems'

  • 12 Comments

New mandatory requirements for NHS organisations in England to publish data comparing the treatment of black and minority ethnic staff with white workers are already causing some trusts “quite a bit of grief” it has been claimed.

The new NHS workforce race equality standard (WRES) comprises nine indicators, which include looking at the proportion of BME staff in senior positions and the likelihood of them entering into a disciplinary process compared with white colleagues.

“Some [trusts] have collected the data and are finding it very uncomfortable”

Roger Kline

Introduced in April, all health service organisations and providers of NHS care – except for small ones – must now report and publish data relating to the indicators and for the first time demonstrate how race equality has improved in each area.

The deadline for organisations to publish the first set of data on their websites was 1 July. At a conference held yesterday by the union Unite, nurses were urged to demand such potentially “uncomfortable” information from their employers if they had not yet published the figures.

Roger Kline, author of the high profile report The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS, which suggested there was institutional racism within the NHS, is joint director of the NHS WRES Implementation Team.

Speaking at the conference in London, he said trusts were in some cases finding the new WRES requirement problematic.

“No trust wants to be published as an organisation that’s at the bottom of the pile on this issue”

Roger Kline

“These indicators are already causing good trusts to seriously reflect on what they’re doing, and are causing bad trusts quite a bit of grief,” he said.

Asked by Nursing Times why they were causing problems, he said it was because some trusts had not previously been collecting the data “when they should have been, while some have collected the data and are finding it very uncomfortable”.

He added: “Sometimes it’s telling them things they really didn’t realise, while for others the publication of data says: ‘We’ve got an awful lot of work to do’.”

Mr Kline claimed it was very hard to manipulate or “game” the results from the nine indicators to make them look more favourable and said he was “optimistic” the WRES would ensure real progress.

Roger Kline

Roger Kline

“No trust wants to be published as an organisation that’s at the bottom of the pile on this issue,” he said, adding that his team intended to rank organsiations.

He also revealed that there was “a lot” of resistance from organisations to the compulsory standard before it was introduced.

It was due to a range of reasons, he said, including claims the standard would cause too much extra work and that the extent of racial inequality was not bad enough to justify mandatory reporting.

However, a recent survey of Unite’s BME health membership found that lack of promotion and progression was a top issue for almost a third (31%) of respondents, followed by racial bullying in the workplace (28%).

Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, Unite’s acting national officer for BME equalities, encouraged NHS employees to speak out on the issue, but noted they were sometimes reluctant to raise discrimination concerns for fear of being accused of “playing the race card”.

The union has called on members to put pressure on their employers to publish the data as required by the WRES and ensure they have targets to close race equality gaps.

“Nurses need to particularly take note of the workforce race equality standard”

Yvonne Coghill

Yvonne Coghill, a former mental health nurse and health visitor who is joint director of the NHS WRES Implementation Team, noted race inequality among nurses was particularly bad.

She highlighted research suggesting there are only around five directors of nursing from BME backgrounds across England.

She said: “We must have a nursing workforce that feels included. We know there are very few senior black and minority ethnic nurses, and we also know an included workforce means patient care is better delivered and safer.

“Therefore, nurses need to particularly take note of the workforce race equality standard,” said Ms Coghill.

  • 12 Comments

Readers' comments (12)

  • I worked in a hospital with a racially diverse patient-group, but racial diversity among staff was not from that area, but from overseas. One reason for this might be that the associated university was miles in the other direction and more representative of a rural-industrial culture; whilst the university nearest to this hospital, and more similar in terms of racial mix, was in another catchment zone.

    In effect, if someone from that diverse area wanted to go to the nearest university in a similarly diverse town, they would not have a placement in their home area because it was associated with the other university, far away. This is a shame, as the newly recruited staff were not reflective of the area, and many of the students had to travel a considerable way to get to that hospital. So perhaps such a hospital would be better served by being linked to its nearest university rather than the one within the trust.

    Another reason native staff of any description would not have chosen that hospital to work in is because it wasn't the best, hence so many overseas nurses. If there are systemic problems within hospitals, and overseas nurses plug the gap, this hides many existing problems and also creates new ones. If i worked abroad and found myself within such a situation, I would have feelings about that. You wouldn't progress very well in a hospital that has problems if you are there to coat that over.

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  • This article does not grasp what the equality act means. It does not mean that BME populations should be entitled to become directors or any thing else just because of their race. It means the best person for the job regardless of race, gender or anything else. If there is a white person more qualified they should get the job not be discriminated against due to meeting an equality number. This is in fact discrimination. How many men hold these positions??
    People who don't have a grasp of the English language should be prevented from promotion regardless of colour. The review should be into getting correct training in place for these people so they can progress. There should be a set standard and people told how to get there and given CPD in order to achieve this. This is the way around this problem instead of artificially promoting people.

    Racial bullying or any bullying in the work place should be an immediate sacking offence. If another staff member witnesses bullying it is their duty to report it and if they should have fitness to practice proceedings.

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  • Positive discrimination for one group of people is negative for another; it's still discrimination. Choose the best person for the job regardless of their background.

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  • I have worked in hospitals and in private domiciliary companies. In both, I suffered racial bullying, harassment and slandered in a sexual way. My union rep would not do anything and senior nurses colloded and condoned the bullies. I worked part-time but would never be given extra hours when requested. I study part-time for my MSC in management and one of my lecturers was one of the senior nurses who bullied me. He is now spreading degrogative remarks about me at the university. I am British of Caribbean descent and born and lived my whole life in this country and educated with a BA HONS but having difficulty trying to gain my MSC because of this continued haressment. It is mental torture for me and the experience has left me having second thoughts about continuing in the nursing 'profession'.

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  • The Nursing profession should consider some of the behaviour I witness on a day to day basis at my hospital in NW London.
    Filipinos make up at least 80% of the workforce they speak in their own language all day everyday in the workplace.They sit at separate tables and don't allow anyone to sit with them.African nurses who make up less than 20% of the workforce do socialise in their own groups at work but they only speak English at work rather than their own language.Filipinos are now the majority in the workplace where I work and Band 7s and above speak in their own language in front of patients and other staff now what do people think about that kind of disgusting behaviour ?

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  • The Nursing profession should consider some of the behaviour I witness on a day to day basis at my hospital in NW London.
    Filipinos make up at least 80% of the workforce they speak in their own language all day everyday in the workplace.They sit at separate tables and don't allow anyone to sit with them.African nurses who make up less than 20% of the workforce do socialise in their own groups at work but they only speak English at work rather than their own language.Filipinos are now the majority in the workplace where I work and Band 7s and above speak in their own language in front of patients and other staff now what do people think about that kind of disgusting behaviour ?

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  • HCSW

    @ Anonymous | 15-Jul-2015 9:49 pm could you please describe the bullying? Sometimes problem is only in your head, in your way of perceiving the surroundings.

    I was bullied only once. I stood my ground, bully was sacked.

    If your teacher gives you homework to do, it is not bullying.

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  • 10:55pm - "disgusting behaviour"????

    Since when was it "disgusting behaviour" to speak in your mother tongue?

    Your apparent fury is really curious since your own name indicates an origin outside the UK.

    Sure it might be more "polite" to converse in English, particularly in front of patients. But in no way is it "disgusting behaviour". Has anyone spoken with them about it? If your Filipino nurses have formed a social clique at mealtimes then it's undoubtedly because nobody else made any effort to integrate with them or, indeed, rejected them socially.

    I live in Portugal - if you want to see "disgusting behaviour" then come down here and observe the behaviour and attitude of British tourists who have ended up in hospital (for free, of course) through excessive alcohol consumption and plain, ugly stupidity.


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  • I have worked in a department with a 'brown' boss and colleague. My colleague didn't work her full P/T hours, came and went as they pleased, was granted 6 weeks holiday over the summer, and I was expected to cancel my 2 weeks to accommodate theirs, as I didn't have any children. No-one dare say anything, as it was understood that if we complained my boss would use the 'racial' card. I have retired since, and apparently nothing has changed. The white assistant manager has left after 2 bouts of sickness, due to bullying by her brown boss. My point is that racial discrimination works both ways. The problem I have mentioned here is that if you are white, you feel your hands are tied to report it

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  • All colours can be racist. This is not PC. However, I have worked in a hospital where the night staff would exclude me from all conversation at night by refusing to use English. I tried hard to integrate and was friendly. They were not. I was pretty appalled but decided it was down to them being racist numpties and didn't take it any further.

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