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Report reveals chief nursing officer’s ‘increasing concern’ at lack of opportunities for BME staff at senior level

Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings calls on trusts to support BME candidates through application and interview process to boost diversity 

Chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings calls on trusts to support BME candidates through application and interview process to boost diversity


Picture: Ian Dodds

Nurses from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds need shadowing and mentoring opportunities to improve diversity at senior levels, according to a new report.

The report, commissioned by the chief nursing officer for England Jane Cummings, reveals her ‘increasing concern’ at the lack of opportunities for BME staff at senior level.

It also calls on trusts to support under-represented candidates through the application and interview process for senior roles, and to analyse the reasons people are not shortlisted or appointed.

Raise existing BME staff profile

The Enabling Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Nurse and Midwife Progression into Senior Leadership Positions report includes best practice examples of trusts working to raise the profile of existing senior BME staff, including getting them to share stories of their own career successes and challenges to inspire others.

Professor Cummings commissioned the report in response to latest Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) data published in April, which revealed BME staff were poorly represented in the higher Agenda for Change bands in England.

While the number of nurses and midwives at band 7 rose from 5,727 in 2013 to 6,896 in 2016, the number at band 8a only increased by 223 in the same period.

Close the gap

WRES was introduced in 2015 by the NHS Equality and Diversity Council to close the gap between white and BME staff experiences and opportunities across the NHS.

In the foreword to the report, Professor Cummings says how, despite one in every five NHS nurses and midwives in England coming from BME backgrounds  – rising to 40% in some areas, including London – ‘very often the opportunities and experiences they receive do not always correspond to the values which we all wish to aspire to’.

She adds: ‘The evidence of effectiveness will, in part, be the progression of BME staff into the higher pay bands and director level positions. We all have a part to play in making that happen.’

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