Reported discrimination towards BME staff has gone up from 13.8 per cent to 15 per cent in the last 12 months, according to the latest NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report.
In contrast, just 6.6 per cent of white staff reported discrimination at work. BME staff make up just under 20 per cent of the NHS workforce (19.1 per cent) yet the proportion in very senior manager positions is just 6.9 per cent. This has increased from 5.7 per cent last year. Across the 231 NHS trusts in England, there were just eight BME executive directors of nursing.
Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, commenting on the figures, said:
“The rise in reported discrimination towards BME staff in the NHS in England is truly appalling, and shows just how far we have yet to go. It is a disgrace that black and minority ethnic staff experience racism, lower pay, harassment and limited career progression within our health service. It is up to employers and policymakers, working with trade unions and other organisations, to put an end to this once and for all.
"A good start would be ensuring there are more BME voices at the top of the profession, yet despite modest gains highlighted since last year, minority voices remain grossly underrepresented in senior management positions. Improving career progression, and stamping out employment discrimination both overt and systemic, should be a priority.
"NHS Trusts need to engage their staff and bring them into the process of resolving issues of discrimination and systemic racism in their workplaces. The RCN is willing to work with employers to make this happen.
“Unsafe environments for staff and their patients costs the NHS. The Government cannot hope to increase staffing levels without the NHS embracing diversity at every level of and extinguishing the damaging effects of racism on our health service.”
The RCN will hold an inclusion summit this summer to help support senior nursing leaders looking to tackle issues of racism and other forms of discrimination and inequality in the NHS and across the profession.