News

NHS Digital data shows significant pay disparity between BME and white nurses in England

RCN says work must be done ‘to ensure our NHS workforce is truly representative’

RCN acting chief executive says wider societal issues must be addressed ‘to ensure our NHS workforce is truly representative’


Picture: iStock

‘Enormous’ pay gaps between white and black and minority ethnic (BME) nurses in England reflect a lack of diversity at senior levels in the NHS, the RCN has said.

Data analysis of full-time equivalent nurses’ basic pay, published today by NHS Digital, reveals that, on average, BME nurses and health visitors earn less each year than white nurses and health visitors. Findings include:

  • Female Asian British and Asian nurses and health visitors earn on average £2,688 a year less than their white colleagues, and male Asian British and Asian nurses earn £2,720 less.
  • Female black British, African or Caribbean nurses and health visitors earn on average £2,280 a year less than their white colleagues, while male black British, African or Caribbean nurses earn £1,884 less.

Diversity issue

RCN acting chief executive Donna Kinnair said: ‘As a black woman who spent a career in NHS nursing, nobody feels stronger about this than me.

‘For the first time these figures show the scale of the challenge we face to ensure BAME [black, Asian and minority ethnic] staff are represented at every level of our healthcare system.

‘The enormous pay gaps highlighted here reflect the lack of diversity at senior levels in the health service. BAME staff make up 25% of the NHS workforce, yet this dwindles to just 7% of senior managers.

‘Across England, BAME staff have less chance of being shortlisted [for senior positions] and accessing career development training than white colleagues.’

Professor Kinnair added: ‘The RCN has recently welcomed moves to strengthen the ‘fit and proper person’ test, to help ensure NHS managers act positively to root out discrimination.

‘But there are wider societal issues that must also be addressed, particularly around access to education, to ensure our NHS workforce is truly representative.’

Discriminating practices

Middlesex University business school research fellow Roger Kline has been a key figure in collecting data and evidence detailing discrimination in the NHS workforce.

In 2014 he published the influential ‘Snowy White Peaks’ of the NHS report into discrimination in NHS leadership, in which he stated that some organisations showed a ‘glacial’ pace of change.

Responding to the NHS Digital data, Mr Kline said: ‘These figures reflect the disproportionately fewer numbers of BME nurses in more senior grades, which is likely to be the prime cause of the ethnicity pay gap.’


Read the NHS Digital data report


In other news

This is a free article for registered users

This article is not available as part of an institutional subscription. Why is this? You can register for free access.

Jobs