NHS managers have been issued a “call to action” to tackle discrimination, as new analysis reveals nurses are among the most likely professional groups in the health service to receive this kind of treatment.
Research by the King’s Fund think-tank on behalf of NHS England found 14% of nurses experienced discrimination in 2014, following a review of the most recent annual NHS staff survey.
The only other groups with higher levels of discrimination were healthcare assistants – reported by 17% of workers – and ambulance staff, where almost a quarter said they had been treated in this way.
The ethnic background of employees was the most significant factor for discrimination among all groups of workers – which included managers, doctors and allied health professionals – apart from ambulance staff.
”This new report paints an important picture of what is happening. It represents a call to action for everyone”
Almost 9% of nurses said they had been discriminated against by patients, relatives or the public, while just over 8% said managers, team leaders or colleagues had acted in this way.
Overall, across the 255,000 staff members from 284 organisations that responded to the staff survey, 12% had experienced some form of discrimination.
Reported levels of discrimination were highest for black employees and lowest for white employees, while discrimination on the basis of faith was highest among Muslims.
The report called for more to be done to ensure the core values of the health service – including respect, dignity, compassion and inclusion – were “embod[ied] in all relationships, not only those with patients, service users and carers, but also in relationships between staff and between professional groups”.
Launching the report last week at a managers’ conference in London, NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens said: “This new report paints an important picture of what is happening. It represents a call to action for everyone in the NHS.”
He said the new Workforce Race Equality Standard – introduced in April and which requires NHS trusts to report their treatment of black and minority ethnic staff compared with white workers – would drive improvements.
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“By introducing a new workforce race equality standard, we have chosen to hold up a mirror to the NHS each year to ask how it looks and feels to the people devoting their professional lives to looking after patients and the communities we serve,” said Mr Stevens.
Recent research has found BME staff are significantly under-represented in senior management positions within the NHS and at trust board level.
A report published last year by Middlesex University research fellow Roger Kline – called The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS – found that in 2012, 1% of NHS chief executives were BME and 16% of the NHS workforce overall.