Six years ago The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS highlighted the scale of race discrimination in the NHS, the UK’s biggest employer of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff. COVID-19 has shown so much more needs to be done.
300 health and social care staff have died so far from COVID-19, a disproportionate number of BME heritage. We know NHS staff infection was overwhelmingly due to occupational exposure whose causes are varied but include the disproportionate BME staff role in patient-facing services, their poorer access to appropriate PPE, the greater reluctance of BME staff to raise concerns, disproportionate deployment into “hotter” roles, and the greater presence of BME colleagues amongst agency staff. BME staff have been largely absent from decision-making.
The COVID-19 impact on BME staff, and Black Lives Matter, has prompted promises to tackle racism more resolutely. So what should NHS leaders do to ensure faster progress to tackle workforce race discrimination? Roger Kline, in this BMJ Leader blog, has ten suggestions for Boards and Integrated Care System system leaders.