BME nurses – the NHS staff most likely to face discrimination at work

NHS WRES report quantifies the harassment, abuse and discrimination BME staff experience

NHS WRES report quantifies the harassment, abuse and discrimination BME staff experience

Picture: Paul Stuart

Black and minority ethnic (BME) nurses in England’s NHS are the most likely of all staff to experience discrimination from colleagues and managers.

They were also the staff group who experienced most harassment, bullying and abuse, whether from colleagues or the public, according to the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report 2019

The WRES report compared the experience of BME and white staff groups, across nursing, administration, allied health professions, medical and dental.

What WRES report says about harassment, bullying and abuse of BME nurses in the NHS

While the report found that both BME and white NHS staff had faced more harassment, bullying and abuse than last year, BME staff reports were growing at a faster rate. 

The WRES report found:

  • 17.1% of BME nurses said they experienced discrimination from managers, team leaders, and colleagues in 2018, the highest proportion of any staff group in the NHS. The equivalent figure for white nurses was 6.3%. 
  • BME nurses experienced most harassment, bullying and abuse from staff out of all staff groups in 2018 at 31.2%, compared to 26.3% for white nurses.
  • BME nurses were harassed, bullied or abused by patients, their relatives or the public in 2018, with 40% reporting having experience of this; 38.6% of white nursing colleagues experienced this behaviour.

Dame Donna Kinnair, RCN general
secretary  Picture: Justine Desmond

Harmful cultures affect patient safety

RCN chief executive and general secretary Donna Kinnair said: ‘BME nurses, who just want to go to work and get on with their job, are reporting a year-on-year increase in the amounts of bullying, harassment and discrimination from patients, managers or colleagues.

‘Research indicates there is a link between harmful cultures and the safety of patients, so resolving these issues must not be allowed to wait.’

NHS England and NHS Improvement WRES director, Yvonne Coghill, said: ‘This report highlights the enormous amount of work that has been done to improve the experiences of black and ethnic minority staff in the NHS and it also shows clearly we need to do more to become a fully inclusive, equitable and fair employer.’

The report said the WRES programme will now focus on identifying NHS trusts requiring most guidance on workplace culture.

BME managers at NHS board level

All 36 London NHS trusts now have at least one BME board member, compared to 16 in 2014.

Source: Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report 2019


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