The must-read stories and debate in health policy and leadership.

The true impact of covid on the NHS health and care workforce will become more apparent as the months and years go on, but we have already seen compelling evidence that some groups have been more negatively affected than others.

New research done by NHS Confederation’s Women Leaders Network has done just this. From a pool of over 1,300 female respondents to a major survey done by the network, almost three quarters of respondents reported their job had a negative impact on their mental health and more than half suffered a negative impact on their physical health.

It was found some groups within this – parents, carers and black Asian and minority ethnic staff – the pandemic had an even greater toll, combined with a fear of turning to their manager for help.

The alarming findings have prompted warnings from the network’s chair Sam Allen – also chief executive of Sussex Partnership Trust – that the pandemic could become a real risk to female opportunity within the NHS.

The NHS workforce is overwhelmingly female at 77 per cent, yet women are underrepresented in the top jobs. Over recent years, work to make boards more equal has been underway, but with an emotionally and physically exhausted female workforce, this target seems even further away.

CCG seeks truth on ‘injustices’

NHS organisations have responded to the George Floyd killing, the Black Lives Matter movement and the extra risks their BAME staff have faced during the covid pandemic in different ways.

But few will have done what Surrey Heartlands Clinical Commissioning Group has done and commissioned an independent review of their organisational culture.

The CCG says its move was prompted by feedback from staff and the “injustices suffered by BAME staff”. The scope of the review will be determined by what staff come forward with – although it is not clear whether specific incidents have prompted the review.

It is being led by Duncan Lewis, who has led a number of other investigations into NHS culture which have often made uncomfortable reading for the organisations concerned. With the report likely to be completed this autumn, the CCG could find out soon whether it will also have a few squirmy moments when it is published.