NHS employees from ethnic minority backgrounds are more likely to experience discrimination at work, according to NHS England’s second annual report into racial equality.
The Workforce Race Equality Standard report found that there had been significant progress within the healthcare system, but that ethnic minorities still experience difficulties.
Indeed, the report concluded that the NHS still has a considerable distance to traverse in order to ensure an equal and diverse workforce at all levels of the organisation.
Evidence included in the report indicated that there are a large number of ethnic minority nurses now working within the profession, with individuals from this ethnic background in bands 6-9 increasing by 4,187 over the last two years.
However, these individuals are more likely to experience bullying from co-workers, and were less likely to think their trust provided equal opportunities for career progression.
It is important to emphasise, though, that this latter statistic is based on personal perception, and this may not be entirely accurate.
The report also warned that there is a distinct lack of ethnic minority representation at board level within the NHS, as is indeed the case across multiple industries.
And the report found that white shortlisted job applicants were 1.57 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting than ethnic minority applicants.
Simon Stevens suggested that positive things have come out of the report, but that the NHS still had much to do in order to treat people equally.
“No-one should be comfortable or satisfied with what these figures show overall, and many employers still have much to do before the NHS can declare mission accomplished on this critical agenda.”
While Joan Saddler, co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council and associate director at the NHS Confederation, suggested that the NHS benefits from diversity and that this must be a critical guiding principle of the organisation.
“This report is a timely tool for leaders and workers on the frontline grappling with how to deliver person-centred care in an increasingly complex environment. It is crucial to the success of the NHS that we listen to people using services and enable diverse teams to deliver services efficiently and compassionately.”
Saddler also noted that ethnic minority staff have a tendency to suffer in silence, and suggested that the organisation of the healthcare service must evolve in order to address these difficulties.
“This is not acceptable and providers of NHS services and system partners need to improve in a planned and sustained way.”
NHS Providers director of strategy and policy, Saffron Cordery, also welcomed the publication of the report, indicating that delivering diversity can be considered another major challenge for the NHS.
“Diversity in the workforce is not only a moral obligation, but also leads to better productivity, better staff morale and in turn better care for patients and the public. This report will help to ensure that race equality and diversity remain a key part of addressing the wider challenges faced by the NHS.”