NHS failing its black and minority workforce

Graham Scott reviews the first NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report

The findings are in and are far from surprising.

The first report of the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) was published on June 2 and contains a highly predictable litany of woe: black and minority ethnic (BME) staff are more likely than white staff to be bullied or abused, wherever they work.


Compared with their white colleagues, BME staff share a perception that they are less likely to work in an organisation that provides equal opportunities for career progression and promotion. 

And BME employees are more likely than white staff to report that they are experiencing discrimination at work.

You may well be thinking that you have heard all this before, many times, and that we did not need another survey and report to tell us yet again.

But there is a difference this time that holds out hope for a future in which racism in the NHS becomes so rare that such reports are no longer deemed necessary.


The WRES, which has been in place since April 2015, measures health service organisations against nine standards.

Its first report sets the benchmark against which NHS trusts and similar bodies will be assessed in the years ahead.

So there will be no hiding place for those organisations that – for reasons which are hard to fathom – continue to stand by and allow one group of their staff be treated worse than another because of their ethnic backgrounds.

The team behind the WRES also exists to provide advice and support to the employers who are lagging behind the rest.


Best practice will be shared and guidance offered. So there will be no excuses left if, this time next year, any NHS organisation in England is still found to be failing its BME staff when WRES issues its second annual report in 2017.

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See news page 9 and reflections page 26

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