Paula Vasco-Knight how she was told she was “a risk” in a leadership role and the NHS England’s plan to promote racial diversity

The NHS is considered as one of most diverse institutions in the country, employing large numbers of people from different racial and cultural backgrounds. However, despite being the flag bearer of multiculturalism since its inception, racial diversity at the top is still an elusive vision.

Even though people from black and minority ethnic backgrounds make up 18 per cent of the workforce, very few of them are represented at board level positions. Institutional discrimination, little organisational guidance, weak policies, “club” culture and lack of strong political determination to tackle inequalities are few of the main problems.

Notwithstanding these entrenched issues, people from BME background have contributed immensely to the running and development of the health service, without whom it would be unsustainable.

On the launch of Equality Delivery Systems 2 at NHS Values Summit, Shreshtha Trivedi spoke to Paula Vasco-Knight, national equality lead for NHS England and chief executive of South Devon Healthcare Foundation Trust, one of the leading innovative trusts in the country.

In this interview, Ms Vasco-Knight talks about how she was perceived “a risk” because she is “different”; the barriers that prevent people from BME backgrounds to take up leadership roles and the NHS England’s plans to promote racial diversity and provide support to people from disadvantaged backgrounds.