NHS Confederation responds to the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard Report

Joan Saddler responds to the latest NHS WRES report.

7 April 2022

Responding to the NHS England Workforce Race Equality Standard 2021 report published today (7 April), Joan Saddler OBE, director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation, said:

“The latest WRES report once again shows a disconnect when it comes to the practical application of our NHS commitment towards ensuring workforce race equality. The gulf between the rhetoric of NHS leaders and the reality of services in racialised communities and the lived experiences of our staff from those communities is fueling disillusion.

"We welcome progress in some senior appointments at board level and the NHS Confederation will continue partnering with NHSEI to increase progress on model employer targets applicable to staff at all levels.

“Sadly, this year’s data again shows BME staff are still underrepresented at all levels, especially on boards, and the levels of bullying and abuse directed at BME staff remains stubbornly high from both patients and other staff. This is totally unacceptable and cannot continue to be the lived experience of NHS staff in the 21st century.

“NHS staff have been our lifeline throughout the pandemic and have worked tirelessly for the last two years, yet we know their heroic efforts have really taken their toll, particularly on BME staff.

“This report is honest in highlighting the systemic barriers to achieving race equality that still exist across the NHS. Concerted action rather than warm words is needed and if these numbers remain static or worse still decline it is BME staff who will continue to bear the brunt of inaction.

"We also agree that there is much more to do and would urge NHSEI to now publish the race equality strategy for the health service with more focus on changing the power relationships that determine the distribution of NHS jobs services and resources."