Workplace Report May 2022

Equality news

Racism rife in diverse NHS

Racism remains a significant barrier for BAME staff in the National Health Service despite record levels of ethnic diversity across the organisation, according to NHS England’s workforce race equality standard report.

Ethnic diversity in top NHS England jobs is higher than at any point in history, but staff from diverse backgrounds continue to be under-represented across all levels and face bullying, harassment and discrimination at work from managers, colleagues and patients.

The report, based on nine indicators of workplace experience, including data from an NHS staff survey, found that the number of BAME staff at senior levels almost doubled between 2020 and 2021, while there were more than 300,000 BAME NHS workers in total, a rise of more than 4% since 2017 to 22.4%.

However, the report also revealed little change in levels of discrimination, with White applicants 1.61 times more likely to be appointed to a role after shortlisting than BAME applicants, while BAME staff were more likely to face a formal disciplinary process.

In addition, some BAME staff continue to face bullying and harassment – reported by more than 35% of staff from “other Asian” and “other Black” backgrounds – while 16.7% of BAME employees had personally experienced discrimination from a manager, team leader or colleagues, the highest level since 2015.

UNISON deputy head of health Helga Pile said it was “beyond intolerable” that many BAME NHS workers still face “a hostile and damaging experience”.

“While it’s good to see NHS staff better reflect the communities served by their hospitals, the picture isn’t quite so rosy when it comes to their experiences at work,” she said.