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BME nurses still face uphill struggle for equality



Figures show Black and Minority Ethnic Nurses are facing an ongoing uphill struggle for equality.

Progress is being made to reduce discrimination against Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) Nurses but official figures show they are facing an uphill struggle for equality, the Royal College of Nursing has said.

The RCN voiced its concern following today’s NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report which shows:

  • One in every five nurses and midwives are from a BME background but they remain significantly underrepresented at senior manager levels and at higher pay bands.
  • White shortlisted job applicants are 1.60 times more likely to be appointed than BME shortlisted applicants.  A recent survey of 1,200 UK employees by the Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development also found that one in five BME employees said discrimination had played a part in a lack of career progression to date.
  • BME staff are 1.37 times more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process in comparison to white staff. This is an improvement on the 2016 figure of 1.56 but research published by the Nursing and Midwifery Council in April shows that BME nurses and midwives are more likely to be referred to Fitness to Practice cases than their white colleagues.
  • Compared to other regions, BME staff in London were more likely to experience bullying and harassment, disciplinary proceedings, and the least likely to hold senior posts, despite the region having the largest BME workforce.

The report also highlights NHS Trusts which performed well against WRES indicators. A select group of these Trusts are currently working with the RCN Cultural Ambassador Programme. To address the imbalance between the experiences of NHS England nurses, the RCN programme works directly with employers to tackle racism and improve performance against specific WRES metrics.

To identify and challenge instances of discrimination, the project places a specially trained member of staff from a BME background onto investigations and disciplinary panels where a BME member of staff is involved. In the West Midlands, where the programme was first implemented, there has been a reduction in the level of sanctions and investigations involving BME staff.

Tom Sandford, England Director of the Royal College of Nursing, said:

“There can be no room for racism across the health and social care sector and certainly no place for it within the nursing profession.

“This report is further evidence of the damaging impact of discrimination on the careers of BME nurses and healthcare support workers. Across England they have less chance of being shortlisted, accessing career development training and are more likely to be formally disciplined than their white colleagues. It’s also clear they are facing a postcode lottery and are experiencing poorer outcomes in the capital. That’s why the RCN is investing in the London Inclusion Solution to tackle the burgeoning workforce inequality in London.

“BME staff are facing a slow uphill struggle for equal access to career opportunities and to be treated fairly in the workplace. This makes the work of the RCN’s Cultural Ambassador Programme even more important for promoting equality and inclusion for all NHS staff.

“When there is racial inequality in the workplace it can affect patient care – it is now time for employers to take robust action to address this systemic problem across the sector.”

You can access the full report on the NHS England website.


Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

It can be “dangerous” when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care.



Patient Falls Risk with IV

There are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone.

NHS figures show that there are now a record 43,671 empty nursing posts in the NHS in England alone, according to the Royal College of Nursing (RCN).

The College says a global shortage of nurses alongside the removal of the nursing bursary has compounded this figure which now sees 12% of posts through the NHS in England without a full-time Registered Nurse.


Figures from the University and College Admissions Service (UCAS) show a 29% overall decline in applications to undergraduate courses since 2015, when the bursary was cut by the Government.

In a report released today titled ‘Standing up for patient and public safety’, the Royal College of Nursing outlines the evidence of the need for a new law that allocates specific legal responsibilities for workforce planning and supply.

A new law is needed.

The report states that in order to address the record number of vacancies, and the gap between the numbers of health and care staff needed to deliver patient care vs. how many are in the system.

Figures included in the report reveal that the number of nursing staff has consistently failed to keep up with the dramatic rise in demand for services and the number of emergency admissions.

The report finally makes a further call for legal clarity on the roles, responsibilities, as well as accountabilities, for workforce planning and supply.

In September, after pressure from RCN members, NHS England and NHS Improvement asked the Government for clarity over who is accountable for the nursing workforce.

‘Nurses are working harder than ever’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Nurses are working harder than ever to deliver safe patient care but are being held back by a system that is legally lacking teeth. Despite the public, patients and nurses all agreeing that clarity is needed on responsibilities for delivering enough nurses, we have yet to see any government pledge anything of the like, and as a result are staring down the barrel at a record 43k empty nursing posts.

“We know how dangerous it can be when there aren’t enough nurses to provide care, but at present, almost all accountability rests with the frontline nurse working on the understaffed ward, rather than those responsible for the system they work in.

“We believe the time has come for change and that patient care was future-proofed by law, and that from the government down, decision makers are held to account.

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NHS calls for clarity on who is accountable for the nursing workforce

Figures suggest there are around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies throughout the NHS in England.



Working nurses in the CCU

Healthcare leaders are calling for legislation to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

NHS England and NHS Improvement have called on the Government to clarify who is accountable for the nursing workforce and the chronic problems it’s currently facing.

Following ongoing pressure from nursing unions, the two organisations met today and recommend that the government should “revisit with partners whether national responsibilities and duties in relation to workforce functions are sufficiently clear.”


With around 40,000 unfilled nursing vacancies in the NHS in England and thousands more throughout social care, the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) believes the Secretary of State for Health and Social Care should be legally accountable for the workforce.

Along with other health care leaders, Dame Donna Kinnair, Chief Executive & General Secretary of the RCN, written to the Government calling for the legislation proposed by NHS England and NHS Improvement to be included in the forthcoming Queen’s Speech.

Staff shortages have reached ‘alarming levels’.

Responding to the news, Dame Donna Kinnair said: “We are pleased that NHS England and NHS Improvement has recognised the concerns of RCN members and the public and has stated that the issue of accountability for workforce planning and supply remains an area that needs be resolved.”

“In the week after we have launched a major public facing campaign calling for investment in the nursing workforce as well as for accountability to be clarified in the law, yet again, the case is made for this to be taken seriously.

“We are clear that government is well placed to determine how accountability can be clarified in law.

Adding; “Staff shortages have reached alarming levels with at least 40,000 vacant registered nurse posts in the NHS in England alone with thousands more vacancies in public health and social care.

“We now hope government will listen to this message, as well as the voices of the thousands of members that responded to the NHS England engagement process, and bring forward this legislation, taking the opportunity to include accountability in government and throughout the health and care system, for workforce planning and supply.”

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