NHS Execs more diverse than ever before

While ethnic minority representation at executive board level has also increased to more than one in ten of executive roles (11%) – up from 9% in 2021…reports Asian Lite News

There are more black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in senior positions in the NHS than at any point in its history, according to an annual report into race equality across the NHS.

The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) for 2023 shows ethnic minority representation at very senior manager (VSM) pay bands has risen by more than half (61.7%) since 2018, from 201 to 325 in 2023 – the highest on record.

While ethnic minority representation at executive board level has also increased to more than one in ten of executive roles (11%) – up from 9% in 2021.

The WRES report, which is a snapshot of where NHS trusts are on addressing race inequalities, also shows ethnic minority colleagues make up more than a quarter of (26.4%) of the NHS workforce. With almost half of (47.5%) of doctors, dentists, and consultants and more than third (33.6%) of our nurses, midwives, and health visitors, coming from a BME background.

It also shows there is more work to be done, with white shortlisted job applicants 1.59 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting than ethnic minority shortlisted applicants – a decline from 1.53 in 2022.

A separate report published today found disabled representation on NHS boards in England increased to 5.7% in 2023, an increase of 1.1% from 2022.

The NHS Workforce Disability Equality Standard (WDES) reports shows disability declaration rates by NHS staff has significantly improved in 2023, up by 19.9% due to improved engagement by NHS trusts. While board members declaring a disability has risen from 2.1 % in 2019 to 5.7%.

The increase comes following the establishment of the Disabled NHS Directors Network (DNDN), which aims to identify and promote best practice in supporting and recruiting disabled staff.

The relative likelihood of a disabled job applicant being appointed through shortlisting has improved from 1.18 in 2019 to 0.99 in 2022. This suggests disabled and non-disabled applicants are equally likely to be recruited to the NHS.

The report also found just over half (52.1%) of disabled staff believed they had equal opportunities for career progression or promotion – an increase from 51.3% in 2022. While 73.4% of disabled staff felt that their employer had made adequate adjustments to enable them to carry out their work.

To ensure the NHS retains talent and continues to attract more people to join its workforce, NHS England published the first ever NHS equality, diversity and inclusion improvement plan in 2023. The plan sets out six high impact actions to ensure staff work in an environment where they feel they belong, can safely raise concerns and provide the best possible care to our patients.

The NHS Long Term Workforce Plan sets out that by improving culture, leadership and focusing on staff experience, 130,000 fewer staff could leave the NHS over the next 15 years. Dr Navina Evans, NHS England Chief Workforce Officer, said:

“There are some positive improvements in this year’s WRES and WDES data, including a higher number of people in senior positions in the NHS being filled by people of ethnic minority backgrounds and disabled colleagues.

“But we know there is more to do, and with the NHS workforce more diverse than at any point in its history progress is particularly critical.

“That is why the NHS’ Equality, Diversity and Inclusion improvement plan sets out targeted actions to address prejudice and discrimination in the workplace, including making sure every NHS board and Chief Executive has a measurable objective to improve the experience of staff.”

Professor Em Wilkinson-Brice, Director for Staff Experience and Leadership Development at NHS England, said:

“It is really encouraging to see the improvements in diversity across the NHS workforce. We recently published our NHS staff survey which also showed tangible improvements in our staff experience. Ensuring we have a motivated and valued workforce is a key part of the People Promise where we all must work together to improve the experience of working in the NHS for everyone.”

Health and Social Care Secretary Victoria Atkins, said: “I want to see the NHS recruit and retain brilliant people from all backgrounds. It is important that the NHS at all levels represents the people it cares for, and I welcome progress in appointing more black and minority ethnic staff to senior positions and better representation of disabled people in the NHS workforce.

“Through our introduction of the first ever NHS long-term workforce plan, we are creating more opportunities for doctors and nurses here at home, which will boost the NHS workforce and the diversity within it.”

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