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The NHS must reflect the black and minority workforce

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Crystal Oldman Crystal Oldman

On 23 March at Birmingham's NEC, the QNI held its annual meeting for Queen's Nurses. It was a fabulous opportunity for networking and to hear from our health sector leaders about the latest policies on community and primary care issues. Speakers included Jane Cummings, CNO, who urged the Queen's Nurses to get involved in the transformation agenda and the new service models as described in the Five Year Forward View.

Jackie Smith, chief executive of the NMC, discussed the new NMC Code and the introduction of revalidation. The latter is going to impact on nurses from April 2016 and there are pilots currently underway to explore the practical issues arising from this new approach to protecting the public and demonstrating our professionalism – including testing it in general practice.

Professor Laura Serrant from NHS England and the University of Wolverhampton provided us with the findings of the report The 'Snowy White Peaks' of the NHS. When I first heard the results of this research last year, I was shocked and I wanted our Queen's Nurses to hear about it. The lack of representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) groups in management and leadership positions across the NHS is unacceptable. This really matters, not just in terms of equality and fairness to healthcare professionals – which is critical of course – but it also really matters to the communities we serve.

As the report highlights clearly, having an NHS employee profile that reflects the population at every level of the service leads to better health outcomes for patients. The report has a stark message for everyone working in the health services and challenges every one of us to reflect on our practice to ensure we do not perpetuate the situation, however unintentional our actions.

At the QNI, we have made a commitment to increase the number of Queen's Nurses from a BME background to reflect the profile of nurses working in community and primary care. Queen's Nurses are leaders of practice and many will become senior leaders of nursing and health care services in the future. We are listening to the views of our BME Queen's Nurses and will act to ensure we lead the way in a having a truly representative group of great leaders.

Crystal Oldman, chief executive,
Queen's Nursing Institute

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