Your browser is no longer supported

For the best possible experience using our website we recommend you upgrade to a newer version or another browser.

Your browser appears to have cookies disabled. For the best experience of this website, please enable cookies in your browser

We'll assume we have your consent to use cookies, for example so you won't need to log in each time you visit our site.
Learn more

NHS equality standard for BME staff comes into force today


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”

Simon Stevens

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:



Readers' comments (9)

  • Good. About time

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Thank you Roger. We have waited over ten years for your research to be taken seriously. This is great for staff but ultimately for our patients.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Thank you Roger. Looking forward to see the change. I came to UK 15 yrs ago with 10yrs clinical experience in various specialties. Managed to gain a band 6 post after 5 yrs of working as band 5/ D grade nurse initially. After 6 yrs into the post,had to down grade as band5 nurse due to restructuring of the unit for financial savings. I had no choice other than taking Band5 post to keep a roof over my head. I felt that institutional racism was a factor leading to this downgrading. Mine is just one case out of so many. Couldn't even get a band 6 post never mind band 8 and above. Hope this decision will bring some changes to the existing practice.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • It's been a long time coming. Let's hope they put theirs words into action. The system can have a greater effect on people's confidence both positively and negatively. I know or have even heard of people who have had pretty awful experiences whilst under the leadership of bigoted managers. There is never hope for many due to the very fact the boardroom isn't prepared to allow for change.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • The Snowy White report linked here is 'unavailable' - why might that be?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • why are some people being labelled BME? and why are they any different to any other staff at similar levels of skill and qualifications? isn't this what is most important to patients and to employers? do you now have to say what colour you are in order to enter an exam and a professional register? maybe you have to state your political colours and your preference the colour of varnish you paint on your toenails as well?

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • This news is very welcome for the ethnic minority groups especially around the East Midland areas, where things has been embedded within the society.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • To God be thy glory. I have Postgraduate certificate in nursing I still remain band 5, attempted to apply for specialist work within same organisation but not given reference. I hope this works.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

  • Please note, my Post graduate certificate is self-funding.

    Unsuitable or offensive? Report this comment

Have your say

You must sign in to make a comment

Please remember that the submission of any material is governed by our Terms and Conditions and by submitting material you confirm your agreement to these Terms and Conditions. Links may be included in your comments but HTML is not permitted.

Related Jobs