Editorial

Race equality initiative leaves nowhere to hide

Policies, initiatives, campaigns – they have all failed, one after the other, to end race discrimination in the NHS and the wider healthcare sector. All have been well meant, and some have made limited progress for a time, but none has had the impact required to end the problem.

Policies, initiatives, campaigns – they have all failed, one after the other, to end race discrimination in the NHS and the wider healthcare sector. All have been well meant, and some have made limited progress for a time, but none has had the impact required to end the problem.

That the problem still exists is undeniable. For a time, the RCN found that nurses from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds were under-represented in its casework because these nurses did not believe their complaints would be taken seriously. When this problem was addressed, the situation was turned on its head, and BME members were involved in a disproportionately high number of cases, because their managers were more likely to take formal action against them than against white staff.

Organisations that are failing to treat BME staff fairly will be exposed

The reasons behind these and other issues affecting BME nurses were the focus of a roundtable discussion hosted by Nursing Standard and featured in this week’s issue. Some of the health service’s leading lights were there, including black nurses who have broken through despite the odds being stacked against them.

Top of the agenda was the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), the latest national initiative devised to tackle discrimination in the workplace. However, unlike its predecessors, the WRES appears to have much more chance of achieving its goals, because organisations that are failing to treat BME staff fairly will be exposed over the coming months. We all know how NHS trusts hate being at the bottom of league tables, so there is a fair chance that the first round of results will prompt a positive response.

It is sad that it has come to this, given the undeniable ethical, moral and economic arguments for ensuring all staff are given a fair go. But when the WRES results are in, ask yourself this: would you want to work for an organisation that treats some staff differently because of the colour of their skin?

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