Race equality champion disputes claim that diversity on NHS boards is in decline

Yvonne Coghill says figures in NHS Confederation report ‘did not give a true picture’

Yvonne Coghill says figures in NHS Confederation report ‘did not give a true picture’

Yvonne Coghill. Picture: Terence Philips

A nurse who leads work on race equality in the NHS has disputed claims that health service boards are becoming less diverse.

A new report by the NHS Confederation claims that the percentage of chairs and non-executive directors of NHS trusts in England from a black, minority or ethnic (BME) background almost halved between 2010 and 2018, from 15% to 8%.

But Yvonne Coghill, NHS England’s director for Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) implementation, said the report ‘did not give a true picture of what is really going on in our NHS today’.

In an opinion piece for Nursing Standard, Ms Coghill said: ‘[The report’s] headline conclusion is that chair and non-executive director roles are becoming less and less diverse.

'This is completely out of sync with what the WRES data is telling us about the ethnic diversity of boards in the NHS.

‘The NHS workforce as a whole is now more diverse than at any time in its 71-year history, and as the latest WRES data clearly show, board-level diversity is increasing year on year, following the implementation of the WRES.’

In response to Ms Coghill’s claims, NHS Confederation director of partnerships and equality Joan Saddler said that while they acknowledged efforts by NHS England to address the issue, they were ‘yet to see more progress when it comes to chair and non-executive appointments’.

She added: ‘We made clear in our report that the findings referred to chairs and non-executive directors on boards.

'Our figures are based solely on front-line NHS organisations.’


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