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”
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”
“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.
“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, 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.