Black and minority ethnic applicants are discriminated against in NHS recruitment processes, the author of a new report has claimed.

People from black and minority ethnic backgrounds are less likely to be shortlisted for, or appointed to, NHS posts than their white counterparts, according to findings from a report written by Roger Kline, co-director of the pressure group Patients First.

He analysed recruitment data from 30 trusts for the past three years. He found the likelihood of white applicants being appointed was more than three times greater than that of BME applicants, and the likelihood of white shortlisted applicants being appointed was nearly twice that of BME applicants.

Mr Kline said his findings were broadly in line with previous research, including a study undertaken in 2008 by the South East BME Network – suggesting the problem had persisted despite a number of government initiatives designed to stamp out discrimination.

Writing in the report, published by consultants Public World and shared with HSJ, he said: “The largest single government employer appears to continue to significantly discriminate against BME staff at both shortlisting and appointment stages.

“More of the same will not be good enough. There is a cost to the NHS in terms of talent not appointed and to patients deprived of care by that talent.”

He added: “We need to find out what is going on, why it is going on, and what can be done about it, so that the NHS workforce is as good as it can be and at all levels reflects the population it serves.”

Gill Bellord, director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers organisation, said: “We must recruit people to the NHS with the right skills and values. It is therefore important that that recruitment processes are both fair and seen to be fair.

“The concern we have, which is made in this new report, is that change needs to happen more quickly and more widely. The challenge for the NHS is to address why organisations are slow to reduce discrimination,” she said.

“Discrimination is completely unacceptable in any NHS organisation. Where it does occur, it’s vital to support those who are affected and address the underlying causes.”

Wendy Irwin, diversity and equalities co-ordinator at the Royal College of Nursing, said the new research “echoed” feedback received from RCN members. “We ask employers to take concerted action to resolve this,” she HSJ sister title Nursing Times.

She highlighted that the RCN had begun a new three-year project this month titled “Is that discrimination?” aimed at eliminating unlawful discrimination at work.