The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard: An evidence based response to deep seated NHS workforce race discrimination
The NHS is the largest UK employer of black and minority ethnic (BME) people. 20% of NHS staff are from BME backgrounds. BME staff are treated less favourably in recruitment, promotion, treatment, discipline and career progression. (Kline 2013, Kline 2014, West and Dawson 2015).
The Macpherson Inquiry prompted the 2004 NHS Race Equality Action Plan which. though characterised by ministerial support and initial success, failed in its aim to change leadership demographics.
New research (e.g. West and Dawson 2009, 2011, 2012) demonstrates good correlations between the treatment of staff, and patient experience and outcomes, and in particular, the links between patient experience and the treatment of BME staff. This provides a powerful business case for tackling discrimination to improve patient care, supplemented by evidence that diversity in leadership benefits innovation and the likelihood that NHS organisations whose leadership resembles that of the communities being served may be more sensitive to their health needs.
Priest et al (2015) and West and Dawson (2015) suggest that the previous reliance on policies, procedures, training and exhortation to tackle workforce discrimination were, in isolation, the least successful strategies to tackle workforce discrimination. Their work, and the new business case, led to the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), which combines a mandatory element with measurable benchmarked outcomes and the sharing of best practice. The nine WRES metrics draw on workforce and staff survey data and board composition data.