Still work to be done as BME staff more likely to be bullied in their workplace

NHS England's second annual report has clearly shown that there is significantly more discrimination occurring between staff from a BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) background and their managers, than there is between white employees.

In a report produced by the WRES (Workforce Race Equality Standard) it came to light that while progress was being made all the time, there was still a lot of work which needed to be done, in order to be sure that there was an equal workforce across all levels of the NHS.

Even though the gap between white and BME had decreased from 14.5% to 12.6%, BME workers were still being bullied more often by co-workers. They were also less likely to believe that they could further their careers than their white colleagues.

A point which the report brought to light was that across the higher levels such as VSM and Executives, there was significantly lower BME representation, although at the very senior positions, the MBE representation had increased.

Taking into account the unemployment rates, the report showed that white applicants are more likely to be shortlisted for work than BME applicants. White applicants were shortlisted 1.57 times more often than BME applicants.

The Chief Executive of the NHS England, Simon Stevens, commented that while there was still work to be done, this had in fact showed real progress, and had given the organisation a full picture of the effect of equality standards.

Stevens went on to say that many employers still have work to do before the NHS can declare this as a 'mission accomplished', and no employer should feel that they were at a satisfactory point when it came to equality.

Joan Saddler, co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, and also associate director at the NHS Confederation, made a point to say that in this complex environment, where delivering person-centred care is all important, the report would certainly be a good tool for both leaders and front line workers. She suggested that it is essential that the NHS listen to the people who use the services, thus enabling teams to deliver the relevant service in the best possible way, and with the most compassion.

Saddler stated that because there were so few BME staff in leadership positions, discrimination and bullying was seldom reported, and staff tended to 'suffer in silence'. This attitude was not acceptable in the NHS and providers and partners needed to work together to change this system.

Chief nursing officer for England, and senior responsible officer for the WRES, Jane Cummings, states that she is encouraged by the way the NHS is working to put an end to discrimination against BME staff. It is also good to hear that hospitals and trusts are making steady progress towards appointing equal parties in top positions. The NHS has put it's mind into the matter, and is set to tackle the huge waste of talent which comes with discrimination and bullying.

Saffron Cordery, NHS provider of Strategy and Policy agreed that while progress had been made, it was essential to continue to make the NHS a better place for racial equality. The report, says Cordery, will go a long way to ensure this equality, which would in turn lead to better productivity and staff morale. Following on from that, it would then lead to better care for patients and the public.

Cordery suggested that health care leaders take full advantage of the report, in order to progress further in areas where the NHS still lags behind. Cordery, however, is very pleased that different parts of the NHS are applying the WRES guidelines, and she suggests that local organisations make use of this so that the best solutions to the problem of racial inequality and discrimination may cease. By sharing this good practise guide, the whole service would benefit.



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