NHS chief executive Sir Simon Stevens has unveiled a new commitment to ensure that the health service’s head office is representative of the wider workforce at all levels of seniority.
Speaking at a meeting of NHS England and NHS Improvement’s black and minority ethnic (BME) staff network in Doncaster, Sir Simon pledged actions to achieve a target of 19% representation at every pay band within the joint organisation by 2025.
The target is not currently being met in the most senior pay bands (Bands 8a-d, 9 and ESM), with representation ranging from 7% amongst director-level roles to 14% for the NHS England and NHS Improvement Boards.
A spokesman for NHS England said achieving the ambition will mean almost 1,000 more staff from BME backgrounds will be in senior roles at the centre of the NHS by 2025, and the NHS chief believes this will act as an example to the hundreds of other local organisations across the health service.
Actions to achieve the new goal include new support and guidance for recruiting managers, new recruitment processes, enhanced development programmes, and the use of data to target specific improvements.
Sir Simon said: ‘Diversity in leadership brings benefits for everyone – both employees and patients.
‘Greater innovation, access to a wider pool of talent, and it means a better place to work, with even greater impact.
‘That’s why NHS England and NHS Improvement are practising what we preach, with a determined acceleration of our own work on leadership diversity.
‘It’s also our ambition that this new and stretching goal not only benefits us here at NHS England and NHS Improvement, but also is matched by equivalent action by every other health service employer across England – a key plank of our plan to make the NHS the best place to work.’
Data provided in the annual Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report will be used to further break down the disparities and provide employment figures – including the breakdowns of applicants for jobs – across every NHS region and directorate.
Tailored, aspirational targets have been established for BME staff to be proportionately represented by each of the 227 NHS trusts and other NHS employers in five-year plans which set out goals to increase BME representation.
Simon Stevens was joined in discussing this by Prerana Issar, NHS chief people officer, and Yvonne Coghill and Dr Habib Naqvi, director and deputy director for WRES.
Dr Habib Naqvi, NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard deputy director said: ‘The NHS is at its best when it reflects the diversity of the country at all levels. We have set ourselves the ambitious challenge of ensuring representation in our organisations is reflective of the overall BME workforce across the NHS.
‘To be a model employer, we need to be an inclusive employer – embodying a diverse workforce at all levels and bringing the wealth of experience and perspective for delivering the best outcomes for all communities that we serve.’
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