The Royal College of Nursing's own research reflects the findings of the Race Equality Service Review by the South East Coast BME Network.

It is a serious indictment on the NHS that, eight years after the Race Relations Amendment Act 2000, so many trusts are failing in their specific duties as set out in the act. Action is needed to ensure that all black and minority ethnic staff enjoy freedom from unlawful discrimination, harassment and victimisation and are able to benefit from full career mobility.

The commitment to partnership working between employers and the trade unions is critical in securing these changes. However, without clear sanctions we risk the situation becoming further entrenched and the wealth of skills and talent among our BME colleagues will not be fully realised within our services.

Wendy Irwin, diversity and equalities co-ordinator, Royal College of Nursing