• NHS boss says he wants “equivalent action” by every other English health service employer
  • Pledge comes with NHSE/I set to publish WRES report next month for arm’s-length bodies
  • BME representation as low as 7 per cent in some senior pay bands

Black and minority ethnic staff will make up 19 per cent of all pay bands within NHS England and Improvement by 2025, Sir Simon Stevens has pledged.

The pledge comes with NHSE/I set to release the annual Workforce Race Equality Standard report on the NHS’ arm’s-length bodies, which will detail its own performance on the diversity agenda, next month.

BME representation in the most senior pay bands currently ranges from 7 to 14 per cent at NHSE/I and last year’s annual WRES indicates the national body has significant room for improvement on the race equalities agenda.

At a BME staff network today, Sir Simon said: “It’s our ambition that this new and stretching goal, not only benefits us here at NHSE/I, but also is matched by the equivalent action by every other health service employer across England.

“[It is] a key plank of our work to make the NHS the best place to work.”

The organisation is planning fresh guidance and support for recruiting managers, new recruitment processes and increased use of data to accomplish certain objectives to help achieve the target.

Last year’s findings revealed seven of the eight organisations had BME staff representation which was below the national average for all NHS trusts in England. Only NHS Improvement had a higher proportion.

BME staff at the ALBs were also “overrepresented” in lower pay grades and more likely to report having personally experienced discrimination at work, either from a manager, team leader or fellow colleague, the report added. It highlighted similarities between NHS trusts and national organisations.

The latest WRES report for the wider NHS, published last month, revealed the share of BME board members on trusts remained “significantly” below the proportion of the overall BME workforce.

The proportion of BME board members has grown from 7.4 per cent in 2018 to 8.4 per cent in 2019, but BME staff make up nearly a fifth (19.9 per cent) of all NHS trust employees in England.

NHSE/I said 19 per cent or more of its staff in six out of the 13 pay bands for permanent roles were from a BME background. This includes 23 per cent of medical grade posts.

However, BME representation falls to between 7 and 14 per cent among director-level posts in its most senior pay bands — 8a-d, 9 and executive senior manager.

While the WRES report highlighted marginal improvements in the proportion of BME workers in the top pay bands, it added work remained to be done.

It said BME staff were still “significantly underrepresented” in senior pay bands 8a and above, with just 6.5 per cent of staff at very senior manager level having a BME background.

It also said BME staff are “overrepresented” in band 5, adding: “As the pay bands increase, the proportion of BME staff within those bands decreases.”

NHSE/I has now promised to focus on providing “accelerated, intensive” support to boost the recruitment of BME staff at senior roles.

Last year, the eight organisations which submitted their WRES data were Care Quality Commission, Health Education England, NHS Blood and Transplant, NHS Business Services Authority, NHS Digital, NHSE/I and Public Health England.