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Work needed to end discrimination for NHS staff

Study shows wide variation in discrimination across country

Adrian O'Dowd

Thursday, 19 November 2015

NHS managers have been tasked with a new drive to stamp out discrimination of NHS staff in England, following a new report.

The Making the difference: diversity and inclusion in the NHS report details an analysis carried out by think tank The Kings Fund for NHS England.

It used data drawn from the 2014 NHS Staff Survey to assess staff experience at work. This data included responses from 255,150 individuals across 284 organisations (including 157 acute trusts, 57 mental health/learning disability trusts, 40 CCGs, 19 community trusts, and 11 ambulance trusts).

Details of the report were presented by Simon Stevens, chief executive of NHS England, when he spoke yesterday in London at the Managers in Partnership Annual Conference.

The report showed that discrimination within the NHS was experienced between managers and staff, between colleagues, but also from patients and members of the public.

The report found:

  • overall, levels of reported discrimination vary significantly by type of trust, location, gender, age, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion and disability status
  • reported levels of discrimination are highest in ambulance trusts and lowest in community trusts
  • reported levels of discrimination are highest for black employees and lowest for white employees
  • people from all religions report discrimination on the basis of their faith, but this is highest among Muslims
  • disabled staff report very high levels of discrimination.

Mr Stevens said NHS managers had to lead on stamping out discrimination in all parts of the health service.

Publication of the performance of all NHS organisations against a new Workforce Race Equality Standard – due out next April – would provide the impetus and accountability needed to make improvements, he added.

“By introducing a new workforce race equality standard, we have chosen to hold up a mirror to the NHS each year to ask how it looks and feels to the people devoting their professional lives to looking after patients and the communities we serve,” he told the audience.

“Today’s new report paints an important picture of what is happening. It represents a call to action for everyone in the NHS.”

The report also highlighted organisations which had taken positive steps to address issues of discrimination such as

  • Lancashire Care developing leadership strategies to make a difference
  • Mersey Care NHS Trust and Birmingham Children’s Hospital developing outstanding team-based working
  • Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh, Northumbria Healthcare developing high levels of staff engagement, compassion and wellbeing.

Other organisations were now developing comprehensive diversity and inclusion strategies and making progress, said Mr Stevens.

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