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NHS black and minority ethnic staff bullied more than white staff

Bullying perpetrated by colleagues rather than patients, inaugural report shows

Caroline White

Thursday, 02 June 2016

Black and minority ethnic (BME) staff working in the NHS are more likely to be bullied than their white colleagues, reveals the inaugural report of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, published today.

The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report details the experiences of BME and white staff at every NHS trust across England, based on the 2015 staff survey.

Of the four indicators assessed across acute, ambulance, community provider, and mental health and learning disability trusts, one looked at the percentage of staff experiencing harassment, bullying, or abuse from their colleagues in the past 12 months.

The findings show that 75% of all acute trusts have a higher percentage of BME staff being harassed, bullied or abused by their colleagues than white staff.

In 22% of acute trusts, returns (33 organisations) show a lower percentage of BME staff reporting harassment, bullying or abuse. Five organisations reported the same response rate for BME and white staff.

Levels of harassment, bullying, or abuse from patients, relatives, or the public, however, were similar for white and BME staff.

This is the first time the WRES data has been collected and published nationally.

NHS chief and co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council said the report provided “unvarnished feedback” to every hospital and trust across the NHS about the experiences of BME staff.

“It confirms that while some employers have got it right, for many others these staff survey results are both deeply concerning and a clear call to action. As this is the first year of the WRES, it provides a transparent baseline from which each employer will now be seeking to improve,” he said.

Joan Saddler, co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council and Associate Director at the NHS Confederation, added: “The report details findings from the initial WRES programme phase that exposes data trusts have traditionally collected but generally failed to act upon.

“The opportunity to improve care quality and staff motivation whilst supporting innovation is clearly signalled. Organisations that are serious about improvement for all, will begin planning to be ahead of the next programme phase of wider engagement and alignment of the WRES to a wide range of equality and inclusion approaches.”

The report also shows that BME staff don’t feel they are given the same career opportunities as their white colleagues.

In 86% of acute trusts, a higher percentage of BME staff didn’t believe their organisation offered equal opportunities for career progression or promotion.

And most acute trusts (81%) report a higher proportion of BME staff who say they have a manager, team leader, or colleague who has discriminated against them.

In 2014, The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS report found that BME staff were treated less favourably than white staff in recruitment, including to Boards; access to career development; disciplinary processes; and that they had endured higher levels of bullying, and were victimised more seriously if they were whistleblowers.

NHS England is now investing £2m over two years (2015-17) in the WRES programme to identify and share best practice in a bid to reverse these trends. This includes the training and development of 75 trust champions who will help reduce inequality, spread best practice, and improve patient care.

Roger Kline, NHS England Director, Workforce Race Equality Standard Research and Engagement, commented: “This report holds a mirror to the service and underlines the challenge we face.” 

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