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Investing in equality and diversity is key to improving the NHS, say leaders

Investing in equality and diversity is key to improving the NHS, say leaders
By Beth Gault
15 March 2024

Equality, diversity and inclusion investment is crucial for providing equitable care and enabling improvements in access, experience and outcomes across the NHS, leaders have said.

Responding to a survey by NHS Confederation on the state of equality and diversity across the health service, all board-level leaders said they agreed that investing in this would be a key part of improving the NHS.

Almost all (97%) of the 560 respondents agreed that the NHS still has issues of discrimination to overcome in its workforce, while 96% agreed this was true for access, experience and outcomes for patients.

While 94% said having a diverse workforce would enable their organisation to better meet the healthcare needs of the communities they serve, less than 50% said their workforce was representative of their communities. Less than one fifth believed this of their leadership.

Joan Saddler, director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation, said: ‘The claims that inclusive roles are a waste of both time and money are often levelled at the NHS and even that they are ineffective and do not lead to improved care for patients.  

‘However, the numbers don’t lie and show that investing in EDI is crucial if we want to see our health service positively progress.  

‘Our survey results show that there are still major issues surrounding discrimination in the service. NHS leaders want their staff to be able to do their best work, however this is simply not possible if so many of them are experiencing stress and mental ill-health due to discrimination, harassment and a lack of support.’

She called on leaders to ‘ramp up’ investment in diverse leadership roles in order to create an inclusive environment.

It comes after one in 12 staff reported facing discrimination while treating patients at work in the NHS staff survey.

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