Race and the NHS – a chance for change

How can we make the NHS fairer for black staff?  Start by having an honest conversation, said contributors to our roundtable debate. Thelma Agnew reports.


BME nurses are under-represented at senior levels and have a worse experience in the workplace than their white counterparts. The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard requires employers to track how they are performing. 

Contributors to our roundtable discussion said the standard will make a difference, but only if employers are rigorous in examining weaknesses and work with BME staff to change the culture.

Anyone familiar with the NHS’s attempts to improve the prospects of black and minority ethnic staff could be forgiven for being sceptical about this year’s big idea.

The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), introduced by NHS England in April, is designed to encourage more leaders from BME backgrounds and improve the experience of BME staff.

It requires organisations to show their progress against indicators of equality, including BME representation at board level.

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This article was first published in print in Nursing Standard: volume 30, issue 5