• Only one of 76 STP and ICS executive leads and chairs has a BME background
  • Lena Samuels, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight STP chair, says: “It’s very important we have got the right culture and right diversity.”
  • BME representation worse than in NHS trusts
  • Twenty-three out of 30 system chairs are male

There is only one person with a black or minority ethnic background among all the executive leads and chairs of sustainability and transformation partnerships and integrated care systems, according to HSJ analysis.

Across the 42 STPs and ICSs, there are 46 executive leads (because four have split the role), while 30 have a chair in place.

Of the executive leads, none have a BME background, and among the 30 chairs, one person does – Lena Samuels, who is chair of the Hampshire and the Isle of Wight STP, as well as chair of South Central Ambulance Service Foundation Trust.

This is less diverse even than top NHS trust leadership – well-known for poor diversity – where recent calculations have suggested about 3 per cent of chief executives and 6 per cent of chairs have a BME background.

The executive leads are equally split on gender, with 23 male and 23 female, including the split exec lead roles of four STPs. Of the chairs, 23 (77 per cent) are male and seven female.

Speaking to HSJ about the lack of STP and ICS leads with BME backgrounds, Hampshire and the Isle of Wight chair Ms Samuels said: “It is a very important issue, when you have got diverse representation you have diverse thinking and skills.

“It is absolutely right we should be all talking to each other and collaborating [in STPs and ICSs], but it’s also very important we have got the right culture and right diversity… Some would say for a new partnership [you should] start with your vision and values and principles, and develop [it from there].”

She said a large part of the reason for the problem in STPs and ICSs was lack of diversity among experienced trust chairs and chiefs, who the leads are normally selected by or recruited from.

“We haven’t got a pool at the moment of people with that level of experience which STPs and ICSs naturally go to.

“There is a need for us to play catch up in terms of doing the talent management. In the immediate future not the long-term future.”

Ms Samuels, who was born in London, to parents born in Trinidad, added: “We haven’t done particularly well in recruiting diverse leaders at senior levels… within trusts, but also in the NHS nationally at NHS Improvement and NHS England, there isn’t great visibility in that regard.”

She said a recently established NHS south east regional talent board had started working on improving inclusion and diversity, which should feed into STPs and ICSs.

An NHS England spokeswoman said: “Appointments are rightly local decisions, but to help ensure the successful delivery of the NHS long-term plan in every local system we are committed to widening the leadership capabilities at every level, with a £2m programme to help 23 areas kick-start or boost leadership development and national networks sharing best practice and supporting change.

“The long-term plan also sets out how the leadership of organisations should reflect the diversity of their employees and local population, which is why we are investing an additional £1m a year in the workforce race equality standard programme to support the progress that is already being made at the top of many CCGs and trusts.”

The HSJ Integrated Care Summit, taking place at the Hilton Deansgate, Manchester from 19-20 September, unites 150+ senior leaders from across the provider, commissioning and local council landscape to determine how to best capitalise on the new funding settlement to rethink service delivery to improve quality and outcomes for your local population.

Held under the Chatham House Rule, attendees will quiz Simon Stevens, Rosie Benneyworth and other national figures on general policy direction, and co-develop solutions to their local challenges with NHS and local government colleagues from across the country. The Summit is free to attend for senior NHS and public sector figures – register your interest here: https://integratedcare.hsj.co.uk/register-2019 


Just one STP chair or executive lead has a BME background