The Government has said it will review NHS England’s ethnicity pay gap in a bid to close the disparity in wages between staff from different ethnic groups.
In a new report (17 March), it announced it will commission a research project to consider the ‘scale and causes’ of the ethnicity pay gap across the NHS, alongside a series of ‘actionable recommendations’ to help reduce it.
It will also assess the impact the pay gap has on staff from different ethnic groups, including by addressing how it influences recruitment and progression.
This comes in response to a controversial March 2021 report, published by the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities, which had recognised a disparity in pay by ethnicity among NHS staff, but had concluded ‘more information’ was needed to understand why.
That report was widely criticised at the time of publication, including by the BMA which claimed it offered ‘shockingly little analysis’ on the challenges faced by ethnic minority doctors and staff.
Commenting on today’s report, Taiwo Owatemi, Labour’s shadow equalities minister, told the House of Commons: ‘This strategy fails to deliver for Black, Asian, and minority ethnic NHS workers: frontline workers who faced a disproportionate risk to their health throughout the deadly Covid-19 pandemic.’
She later said: ‘It’s disgraceful that we’ve had to wait almost a year for the Government’s response – and worse still that it agrees with the original report’s denial of structural racism.’
Meanwhile, Kemi Badenoch, Minister of State for Equalities, said: ‘The causes behind racial disparities are complex and often misunderstood. Our new strategy is about action, not rhetoric and will help create a country where a person’s race, social or ethnic background is no barrier to achieving their ambitions.’
In 2018, the NHS became one of the first public sector organisations to publish breakdowns of its staff pay by ethnic group.
One 2019 breakdown indicated that the average monthly basic pay (FTE) for white men was £3,145, compared to £2,646 among Black men, while Asian men received around £3,864.
Late last year, a report highlighted that inequality among NHS staff was ‘getting worse’ and is standing in the way of its ability to find and retain its workforce.