NHS organisations in England will be required to show they are treating black and minority ethnic staff fairly at work and during recruitment, especially for senior roles, under new rules that come into effect from this month.
The new NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard will apply to all NHS organisations – except those in primary care and very small ones.
It will, for the first time, require organisations to demonstrate they have improved race equality within their workforce. They will also have to demonstrate that levels of BME representation on their boards broadly reflect the communities they provide care for.
“Care is far more likely to meet the needs of all the patients… when NHS leadership is drawn from diverse communities”
From April, it will also be a mandatory requirement for all NHS organisations to use an equality toolkit, called the Equality Delivery System 2, proposals for which were unveiled last summer.
Research has found BME staff are significantly under-represented in senior NHS posts. A report published last year by Middlesex University research fellow Roger Kline – called The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS – suggested the service was open to claims of being “institutionally racist”.
The new standard will require organisations to look at nine workforce indicators. They include comparing the percentage of BME staff in bands 8 to 9 with the percentage in the overall workforce.
It also covers the likelihood of BME staff being shortlisted for any post, taking part in non-mandatory training or facing formal disciplinary processes, compared with white workers.
Mr Kline, who led the development of the standard, said the standard required all NHS providers to treat all black and minority ethnic staff “fairly and ensure their full talents are used”.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens added: “Care is far more likely to meet the needs of all the patients we’re here to serve when NHS leadership is drawn from diverse communities across the country, and when all our frontline staff are themselves free from discrimination.”
NHS England said that if use of the equality standard proved successful it may be adapted to address other equality issues, such as sexual orientation, disability and gender.
- Nurses and midwives from BME backgrounds are being encouraged to apply for scholarships worth up to £15,000 to help them become “future leaders”. The scholarships have been created by the Florence Nightingale Foundation and chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings: