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The workforce race equality standard programme has become a mainstay of the NHS, with a yearly publication of data about each trust revealing some progress on important goals, such as increased representation of people from ethnic minority groups in some senior roles.
But can it do more if it instead concentrates on specific goals and areas of focus for each NHS organisation? That seems to be the message coming out of the WRES team where the talk is of a “reset” or “reboot” of the standard.
Anton Emmanuel, head of WRES, told the Ambulance Leadership Forum last week that “fundamentally the dial has not been shifted to any extent” and highlighted the use of racial disparity ratios going forward.
These ratios would show how progress through the ranks of the NHS differs between staff from a white background and staff from a minority ethnic background. This will allow trusts to work with the WRES team to identify specific bottlenecks in progression — whether that is at recruitment, when moving through the Agenda for Change bands or at senior management level. Trusts will then be able to take action on these areas.
There’s a lot more to learn about this — such as how publicly trusts will be held to account for meeting their targets — but the changes will demand greater levels of board buy in and attention than the current WRES work.
In the East Midlands
An East Midlands trust has apologised after a report condemned how it had “let down” a staff member who had reportedly suffered a “racially aggravated attack”.
The report, leaked to HSJ, criticised Northampton General Hospital Trust over its handling of the incident involving the security officer in November 2019.
A few weeks before the incident took place, health and social care secretary Matt Hancock had urged trusts to do more to support staff who were confronted with racial abuse.
In a letter sent to all NHS staff at the time, he said: “Your management must and will always back you up.”
The report took a dim view of NGHT’s delay in handing over the necessary information to police, which came almost a year after the person in question had filed a formal grievance.
Northamptonshire police told HSJ that, although the incident was “fully and diligently” investigated, it was eventually filed due to a lack of evidence.