Race Equality

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2006 Health Care Service Group Conference
22 April 2006

Despite the passing of the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 and claims made by the Secretary of State at Unison’s Health Conference in 2004 that the NHS has a diverse workforce, we still do not have an equal workforce.

Economic migration has brought into the NHS, a workforce which reflects the diversity and mix of the communities in the U.K. Indeed, overseas nurses are now the largest group registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Conference notes the various new imperatives to deal with equality and diversity issues arising from new employment rights, and the duty on NHS Employers to promote race equality.

Despite this, there is still a noticeable lack of black and ethnic minority people in NHS leadership and management positions. Black and ethnic minority staff remain in the lowest paid jobs, the least attractive specialisms and continue to suffer racial harassment and discrimination. Other than producing wordy Race Equality Schemes, most NHS Employers have done little to comply with their legal duties to end discrimination and actively promote race equality. In the words of the Audit Commission, most public authorities see the initiating of systems as a main indication of success. There is not enough emphasis on tangible outcomes.

This conference calls on the Health Group Executive to work through the NHS Staff Council with the NHS Employers Organisation in England and the Health Departments in the other three countries, to put together guidance for local employers and staff sides on how the NHS can bring about real change in terms of race equality.

Conference also calls on the Health Group Executive to ensure that the newly created NHS Equalities and Diversity Board publishes annual reports detailing why NHS Employers are failing to attract and promote black and ethnic minority people who are well educated, talented, make a significant contribution within their workplace, and who live and work in the communities they serve.

Until this issue is addressed no NHS Employer will actively promote racial equality across all levels of NHS management and only by working together to educate staff, members and Executive Board members to understand and tackle institutional behaviour, will we be able to combat racism in the NHS.