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Report shows BME staff experience “racism, lower pay, harassment and limited career progression”

Across the 231 NHS trusts in England, there are just eight BME executive directors of nursing.

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nurse preparing IV medications
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Reported discrimination towards Black and Minority Ethic staff has risen further.

Reported discrimination towards Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff has gone up from 13.8 per cent to 15 per cent in the last 12 months, according to the latest NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report.

In contrast, just 6.6 per cent of white staff reported discrimination at work.

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The report also suggests that, while there has been a year on year, BME staff remain underrepresented in the most senior NHS roles. Despite BME staff making up just under 20 per cent of the NHS workforce, across the 231 NHS trusts in England, there are just eight BME executive directors of nursing.

NHS England’s Chief Executive and Director for the WRES have committed to funding the programme for the next seven years, supported by £1 million funding each year until at least 2025.

‘Closing the gap’.

To ensure the proposals make a practical difference for staff, NHS England has appointed a team of 42 experts from within the existing workforce, who will work with senior staff to close the gaps between BME and white staff.

Yvonne Coghill, Director of WRES Implementation at NHS England and Deputy President of the Royal College of Nursing said: “Improving the experience of staff is good for them and leads to better outcomes for our patients.

“As well as making the health service fit for the future of patient care, the NHS Long Term Plan commits to doing more for our staff by shining a light on areas where they aren’t always treated fairly.

“Investing in the WRES into the middle of the next decade, will help us make the changes in the NHS that our staff and patients need and deserve.

“Our experts are already supporting organisations to improve their race equality strategies, with a second group set to join them and champion the programme across the NHS in England”

‘Racism, lower pay, harassment and limited career progression’.

Dame Donna Kinnair, Acting Chief Executive and General Secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, 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.” 

Workforce

Nursing vacancies hit record high leaving patient care at risk

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

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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.

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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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Workforce

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.

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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.”

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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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