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NHS pledges to eliminate ethnicity pay gap

Diversity across NHS senior leadership will be increased to reflect that across the rest of the NHS by 2028

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 23 October 2018

The Department of Health and Social Care has pledged to eliminate the ethnicity pay gap in the NHS and set a goal to increase black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) representation in senior leadership to match that seen across the rest of the NHS by 2028.

Recent NHS ethnicity pay analyses show that senior white NHS managers are paid thousands more than managers from ethnic minority backgrounds, and that fewer BAME staff reach the most senior levels of management.

While the NHS workforce is more diverse that the national average, with BAME staff making up 17% of the non-medical NHS workforce, only 11% of senior managers are BAME, and this drops to 6.4% at a very senior level.

Health minister Stephen Barclay has pledged to tackle this and set a goal for the NHS to ensure BAME representation at very senior management levels will match that across the rest of the NHS workforce within 10 years.

In September the NHS became one of the first public sector organisations to publish breakdowns of pay for all staff by ethnic group, and some individual trusts already publish their own data and act on it.

Health minister Stephen Barclay said that while the NHS has diversity levels far in excess of the national average, but it is unacceptable that this is still not reflected at the very top of the organisation.

“This kind of inequality has no place in a modern employer and I’m determined to tackle it,” he said.

“That’s why I have set an ambitious goal for the NHS to ensure its leadership is as diverse as the rest of the workforce within the next ten years, supporting a culture that allows diversity to thrive at all levels.”

Yvonne Coghill, director of the workforce race equality standard for NHS England, said: “Although I’m confident that the NHS in England is moving in the right direction – as shown by the recent increase in senior managers from BAME backgrounds and more NHS trusts having board-level BAME representation – it’s equally clear that we have some way still to go.”

A number of the Department of Health and Social Care’s arm’s length bodies, including NHS England, Public Health England and Health Education England have signed up to the new Race at Work Charter to implement five calls to action:

  • appoint an executive sponsor for race;
  • capture data on ethnic diversity and publicise progress; 
  • commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying; 
  • make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers; 
  • and take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

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