The first NHS Equality Diversity and Inclusion Improvement Plan has been published by NHS England.
It sets out actions to improve the culture of NHS workplaces and the experiences of a diverse workforce.
The plan aims to address all forms of discrimination and inequalities, enabling staff to use their full range of skills and experience to deliver the best possible patient care.
CSP chief executive Karen Middleton said: ‘There are many good intentions here and a welcome recognition of organisational responsibility, rather than simply placing the onus on individuals.
‘We need to see the monitoring of progress made public, and by organisation, because accountability is key and the concern must be that in an under-resourced NHS, this slips down the agenda.
'But it’s an important step forward and contains many elements that could make a significant difference if appropriately prioritised, resourced and delivered.’
Amanda Pritchard, chief executive, NHS England said: 'Staff are at the heart of everything the NHS does, and always will be. To support the recovery of services following the Covid-19 pandemic, we need to increase capacity by growing our workforce and find new ways of working to enhance productivity.
‘To build for the future, we must inspire new staff to join and encourage existing staff to stay. Ensuring our staff work in an environment where they feel they belong, can safely raise concerns, ask questions and admit mistakes is essential for staff morale – which, in turn, leads to improved patient care and outcomes.
‘This can only be done by treating people equitably and without discrimination.'
CSP national officer Siân Caulfield said: ‘We support the commitment to ensure discrimination is tackled in all its forms for NHS staff. It is also positive to see that the EDI improvement plan has six high impact action areas to address discrimination. The six priority areas will be monitored against annual surveys such as the NHS Staff Survey, National Education and Training Survey and the Workforce Race Equality Standard.
She further referred to the 2022 NHS Workforce Race Equality Survey report citing levels of discrimination in the NHS.
‘The data revealed that there are still considerable gaps between the workforce as a whole and executive level, and Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff are still significantly more likely to enter a formal disciplinary process when compared to white colleagues.
‘The report also found that bullying and harassment from other staff primarily affects Black, Asian and minority ethnic colleagues. And, where intersectionality is considered, women from a Black background (19.8 per cent) and women from an Arabic background (18.4 per cent), experienced high levels of discrimination from other colleagues in the last 12 months.’
High impact actions
The plan prioritises six high impact actions to address the widely-known intersectional impacts of discrimination and bias:
- Chief executives, chairs and board members must have specific and measurable EDI objectives to which they will be individually and collectively accountable.
- Embed fair and inclusive recruitment processes and talent management strategies that target under-representation and lack of diversity.
- Develop and implement an improvement plan to eliminate pay gaps.
- Develop and implement an improvement plan to address health inequalities within the workforce.
- Implement a comprehensive induction, onboarding and development programme for internationally-recruited staff.
- Create an environment that eliminates the conditions in which bullying, discrimination, harassment and physical violence at work occur.
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