Nursing and midwifery represents the largest collective professional group in the NHS.

As early as 1949 the Ministries of Health and Labour, in conjunction with other agencies, launched campaigns to recruit hospital staff directly from the Caribbean. This practice  expanded to other parts of the world, including Asia. Yet, the ability of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff to progress in the NHS has remained limited and marginal.

A report launched in December 2017 by NHS Improvement and NHS England entitled Enabling BME Nurse and Midwife Progression into Senior Leadership Positions, provides and overview of the inequitable, yet entrenched, nature of hierarchies in the majority of NHS Trusts. There is also in depth coverage of what different Trusts are doing to address the problem.

So, what are the best performing Trusts doing?

  • There is a Board lead for BME (Black and Minority Ethnic) staff.
  • Ethnicity audits are undertaken to check that processes are fair.
  • There are targets for improvement and ongoing monitoring of those targets.
  • There are aspirational tragets to increase BME representation at higher bands.
  • Shadowing and secondment opportunities. Also stretch projects.
  • Mentoring for new BME recruits.
  • Revamping the appraisal process to make them meaningful. A review of appraisal processes and procedures.
  • Equality briefings for managers, recruitment panels and those overseeing disciplinaries and investigations.
  • Asking BME senior staff to share their stories.
  • A review of all interview panels by Equality and Diversity leads and HR directors.
  • Open forum meetings to talk to BME staff about their recruitment and workplace experiences.
  • Evidence-based interventions sanctioned by the Trust board.
  • Different processes to ensure BME voices are heard by the Trust board.

A key ingredient for change in Trusts which have made some headway in recruiting BME staff to senior positions appears to be a motivated leadership. Trusts are expected to continue with data collection and analysis to ensure that processes and procedures are fair at different levels of engagement.

Further reading

Workforce Race Equality Standard WRES Data Report 2017

History and Policy: Immigration and the National Health Service