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BME confidence in career progression falls to lowest level in five years


By Valeria Fiore
Reporter
28 February 2019

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Black and Minority Ethnicity (BME) staff confidence levels for equal opportunities in NHS organisation has reached its lowest point since 2014, official data has shown.

The NHS Staff Survey data, published on 26 February, revealed 69.9% of BME staff think their organisation provides equal opportunities for career development and or promotion, down from 71.5% in 2017.

This is the lowest percentage recorded since 2014, when the figure was 70%.

The Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) former NHS England director Dr Roger Kline fears this result might be due to a lack of action from leaders and calls for a greater emphasis on actions leaders should take to improve the experience of BME staff within their organisation.

He said: ‘My view is that a renewed emphasis on evidenced interventions is what is needed. If we raise staff expectations and don’t deliver sufficiently then such survey results should not be surprising.’

The figure for white staff responding to the same question also slightly dropped from 86.6% in 2017 to 86.3% in 2018. In 2014, the figure stood at 89%.

According to NHS England, responses from BME staff rose by 7.1% in 2018 to 78,006, representing ‘the clearest picture ever of the experience of staff from minority backgrounds’.

In October 2018, the former health minister Stephen Barclay set a goal for BME representation at very senior management levels to match that across the rest of the NHS by the next ten years.

NHS England WRES Implementation director Yvonne Coghill said: ‘Since 2015, the WRES has held up a mirror to the NHS on workplace opportunities and experiences between BME and white staff. The data clearly show that BME staff are underrepresented at senior and leadership levels across the NHS which has led to the launch of a new WRES Strategy to achieve BME leadership representation across the NHS workforce by 2028.’

The WRES has also been mandated since April 2015 through the NHS standard contract, requiring trusts to report on their progress on race equality.

According to the latest WRES data, published in January, 7.4% of board members in NHS trusts are from a BME background, which is lower compared to 19.1% of in the total BME workforce in NHS trusts.

Dr Kline said: ‘Too many organisations are chasing quick fixes and silver bullets when there are none.

‘I think it crucial that trusts understand that lots of talk about “culture change” won’t move the dial whereas actually changing behaviours and outcomes will change culture.’

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