NHS takes action on inequality with new workforce standards

All NHS organisations need to ensure employees from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace say new standards published this week.

From 1 April 2015, the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) requires NHS organisations to demonstrate progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to address the low levels of black and minority ethnic board representation.

The WRES forms part of the mandatory requirements in the 2015/16 standard NHS contract and has been introduced following reports highlighting disparities in the number of BME people in senior leadership positions across the NHS, as well as lower levels of wellbeing amongst the BME population.

“The evidence is clear that treating all healthcare staff fairly and with respect is good for patient care.  When black and minority ethnic staff, who make up a large minority of nurses, doctors and other NHS staff, are treated fairly it improves patient experience and patient safety”, said Roger Kline, research Fellow at Middlesex University Business School, who led the development of the standard.

Additional measures in the WRES include: (i) responses to questions on diversity from the NHS Staff Survey; (ii) workforce metrics which include the recruitment of BME staff; (iii) access to non-mandatory training opportunities; and (iv) the likelihood of BME staff being subject to disciplinary action.

Mr Kline continued: “The Workforce Race Equality Standard encourages, and where necessary requires, all NHS providers to treat all black and minority ethnic staff fairly and ensure their full talents are used. It is good news for patients and for staff that NHS organisations have adopted this ground breaking evidence-based approach.”

The Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) is available on the NHS England website.


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