• NHS data reveals just one trust board had as many BME members as white in 2018
  • Ninety-six trusts say they have no BME board directors – down just two from 2017
  • BME board member share decreased at 56 trusts between 2017 and 2018

Only one trust has as many black and minority ethnic board members as white, while 96 trusts say they have no BME board directors at all, new data has revealed.

Black Country Partnership Foundation Trust had the highest share of BME board members at 50 per cent, according to the 2018 workforce race equality standard data published by NHS England. This was up from 40 per cent last year.

It was followed by East London Foundation Trust, which had 44 per cent, and North Middlesex Trust at 40 per cent.

The data revealed 96 trusts said they had no BME board members at all in 2018 – only two fewer than in the 2017 data. The data reported on 231 trusts in total.

Some trusts with very low representation told HSJ the data was wrong, however.

Across all trusts surveyed, 7.4 per cent of board members were from a BME background in 2018. The NHS workforce overall is about 20 per cent BME.


HSJ also looked into the trusts which had seen the biggest increase in the share of board members reported as BME between 2017 and 2018. North Middlesex Hospital Trust’s share increased from 23 per cent to 40 per cent.

It was followed by the Clatterbridge Cancer Centre FT, which had an all-white board in 2017 but, in 2018, 17 per cent of the board were BME.

Although board size varied a lot, it was typically around 10 people, so these changes could represent just one or two more BME members.

Maria Kane, North Middlesex University Hospital Trust’s chief executive, said it was “proud” of recent improvements and added: “We are keen to ensure our local population is represented at all levels of the trust workforce and we know, like many NHS organisations, we have much further to go.

“We work hard to promote and celebrate what diversity of all types offers to the NHS, from frontline clinical staff to the board.”

Biggest improvements

Trust name

Change in BME representation from 2017 to 2018


16.9 percentage points


16.7 pp


13.3 pp


11.9 pp


11.8 pp

Going backwards

Fifty-six trusts reported their share of BME board members fell between 2017 and 2018. HSJ has not identified those with the biggest falls because several disputed the figures. Rotherham FT and Solent Trust both said their numbers were wrong.

Last year, then health minister Stephen Barclay said the government would like NHS leadership to be as diverse as its workforce within a decade.

In its latest WRES report, published last week, NHS England said the need for senior management to reflect the overall workforce was “not for political correctness” but for “patient outcomes and increased organisational efficiency”.

The 2018 data showed there were only 16 trusts at which a BME candidate was more likely to be appointed from a shortlist than a white candidate. Overall, white applicants were 1.45 times more likely to be appointed from shortlists than BME applicants – a reduction from a 1.6 ratio in 2017.

The long-term plan for the NHS announced a package of measures earlier this month to improve race equality. It pledged to invest an extra £1m and appointed a team of experts to work with trusts to “close the gaps” between BME and white staff.

NHS England WRES policy lead Habib Naqvi said: “Whilst we have seen improvements in a number of areas, the latest WRES data report is a reminder of the challenges we still face, which is why we are continuing to support NHS organisations to better reflect their workforce in their own leadership.”