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NHS Digital pledges to become more diverse

People in a boardroom

By Beth Gault
3 August 2021

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NHS Digital has set new diversity targets in order to ‘better represent our customers, health and care staff and the communities’ they work in.  

The technology and data arm of the NHS is aiming for 19% of its staff to be black, Asian, or from minority ethnic groups, 14% to be disabled and 50% to be female by 2025.  

The body currently employs around 3,500 people across England. Of these, 45% are female, 13% are black, Asian or minority ethnic, and 5% are disabled.  

Alongside these targets, NHS Digital is also putting in place a range of diversity measures, including: 

  • Trying to understand and improve the experience of existing staff from underrepresented groups. 
  • Offering positive action development opportunities aimed at underrepresented groups.  
  • Improving internal and external recruitment and selection processes.  
  • Do wider outreach and engagement to promote the NHS as an inclusive employer.  
  • Focus on diversity among those joining NHS Digital as graduates, apprentices and school leavers.  

Simon Bolton, interim chief executive at NHS Digital, said: ‘Setting workforce representation targets is a symbol of our, and my personal, serious intent to make a difference. It certainly is not a quick fix; however it is a visible and public acknowledgement of our current position and acceptance to be held to account. 

‘It signals our commitment to work much harder to retain and develop our existing diverse talent and to do things differently to engage and attract colleagues from all backgrounds. This is particularly important in our senior leadership roles where we know we need to do better.’ 

He added that change will require ‘strong leadership’ which he is ‘unapologetic’ about.  

‘Having a more diverse workforce is only part of the solution, and we need to work to make NHS Digital a truly inclusive environment,’ he added.  

‘We are focused on building a workforce that better represents our customers, health and care staff and the communities we serve. We know that this will help us to develop and deliver better products and services, and ultimately enable improved healthcare outcomes.’ 

It comes after a report found that BME doctors are underrepresented in senior NHS positions.  

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