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The findings from a high-profile employment tribunal have come at an awkward time for NHS England amid pledges to eliminate racial discrimination in the health service.
Judges upheld Michelle Cox’s complaints while also criticising her employer’s investigations into the concerns she raised as “woefully inadequate”.
The case revolves around events involving Ms Cox and her then line manager, Gill Paxton.
These included a more junior staff member being promoted without her knowledge, while she was also left out of recruitment processes for two senior roles in her team.
Judges concluded Ms Paxton created an “intimidating and hostile and humiliating” environment, which had the purpose and effect of unlawful harassment.
The tribunal also criticised NHSE for not addressing the “underlying issues” of race discrimination that Ms Cox raised.
Meanwhile, NHSE says the workforce is the “most diverse it has ever been” after publishing the latest NHS workforce race equality standard report shortly afterwards.
Tech leadership in the NHS has undergone much turnover in the last two years amid the mergers of NHSX and NHS Digital into NHS England.
Since Tim Ferris’ appointment as NHSE’s transformation director in March 2021, a host of senior chiefs have departed in a deflation of the leadership circle. Notable exits include Sarah Wilkinson, Matthew Gould, Simon Bolton, Simon Eccles, Jonathan Benger and Tara Donnelly.
But with change comes new faces, and NHSE has this week announced the appointment of two new tech leaders.
These are the new chief clinical information officer, Melanie Iles, and her deputy CCIO, Arjun Dhillon.
The duo have joined from NHSE’s East of England regional team and NHS Digital respectively, and will be tasked with “shaping the future of digital clinical informatics”, according to an internal NHSE announcement seen by HSJ.
With NHSE desperate to bridge the knowledge gap between clinicians and tech, the CCIO roles are hugely important. However, given the ongoing cost-cutting exercise within NHSE, both appointments are on an interim basis – although NHSE told HSJ it wants to make permanent appointments to the roles later.
After high turnover, the NHS tech leadership needs stability to transform the health service.
Also on hsj.co.uk today
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