Advice line: NHS bid to improve the experiences of black and minority ethnic staff

Pramod Selkar welcomes an NHS bid to improve the experiences of black and minority ethnic staff.

Last month a new and mandatory Workforce race equality standard was introduced into the NHS in England. This followed research which showed that the treatment and experience of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff is significantly worse, on average, than that of NHS white staff. Despite previous equality measures and the growing number of BME health professionals, little or no progress has been made in recent years.
NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens is committed to making progress on race equality. He has argued that ‘care is far more likely to meet the needs of all the patients we’re here to serve when NHS leadership is drawn from diverse communities across the country, and when all our frontline staff are themselves free from discrimination’.
The standard takes a small number of indicators including disciplinaries, training and shortlisting for interview, and requires NHS organisations to close the gap between the experiences of BME and white staff. Organisations will need to scrutinise and understand the data and then work towards a level playing field where the treatment of staff is not affected by their ethnicity.  
Organisations will need to publish their baseline data no later than 1 July. At the end of the first year (1 April 2016), progress will be published and shared with commissioners and staff. The data will be shared across the NHS so that organisations can benchmark themselves. The Care Quality Commission will monitor progress on the standard as part of the ‘well led’ domain of inspections. 
It will be essential that employers engage around the standard with BME staff and trade unions. The impact of the standard will be greater where local social partnership with trade unions and staff organisations draw on their knowledge, support and experience. All BME CSP members and stewards in England should ensure that they are consulted and are active participants in this important new equality initiative. 
Pramod Selkar is co-convenor, CSP BME Network

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Pramod Selkar co-convenor, CSP BME Network

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