The number of BME staff reporting discrimination has gone up from 13.8% to 15% in the last 12 months, according to the latest NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report. In contrast, just 6.6% of white staff reported discrimination at work.
‘The rise in reported discrimination towards BME staff in the NHS in England is truly appalling, and shows just how far we have yet to go,’ said Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing. ‘It is a disgrace that black and minority ethnic staff experience racism, lower pay, harassment and limited career progression within our health service. It is up to employers and policymakers, working with trade unions and other organisations, to put an end to this once and for all.
BME staff make up just under 20% of the NHS workforce (19.1%) yet the proportion in very senior manager positions is just 6.9 per cent. This has increased from 5.7% last year. Across the 231 NHS trusts in England, there were just eight BME executive directors of nursing.
‘A good start would be ensuring there are more BME voices at the top of the profession, yet despite modest gains highlighted since last year, minority voices remain grossly underrepresented in senior management positions. Improving career progression, and stamping out employment discrimination both overt and systemic, should be a priority,’ added Dame Donna. ‘NHS Trusts need to engage their staff and bring them into the process of resolving issues of discrimination and systemic racism in their workplaces. The RCN is willing to work with employers to make this happen.’
The report did identify some areas of progress. White applicants were 1.45 times relatively more likely to be appointed from shortlisting compared to BME applicants, a reduction from the 1.60 ratio in 2017. BME staff were 1.24 times relatively more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process compared to white staff. There have been year-on-year improvements on this indicator since 2016.