The NHS is the largest employer in the UK with a workforce of 1.4 million, and the biggest employer of ethnic minority people in the UK. The 2022 NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) data states that 24.2% of the NHS workforce is from an ethnic minority, making the NHS more diverse than ever. With over 125,000 vacancies and service demand continuing to increase, it is likely that the NHS will continue to increase in diversity with international recruitment being a key component to meeting this demand alongside the development of the domestic workforce. It is crucial that increasing diversity is reflected at all levels across the NHS. However, the most recent WRES data also shows that despite an overall increase in whole workforce diversity, the gap between the whole workforce and board diversity is widening, with the largest gap at executive level.

The WRES was introduced by the NHS Equality and Diversity Council (EDC) for all NHS trusts and foundation trusts in April 2015, mandated within the standard operating contract. Comprising nine metrics covering workplace experience and opportunity for different ethnic groups in the NHS workforce, the WRES provides an ability to benchmark progress, identify trends in local, regional and national data and interventions that have supported progress. 

The 'disciplinary gap' is highlighted in the WRES data. This is the relative likelihood of ethnic minority staff entering the formal disciplinary process compared with white staff (WRES metric three). Annual reporting against the WRES metrics has highlighted that despite progress in reducing the gap, the disparity in the treatment of white and ethnic minority staff in disciplinaries still persists over eight years later.

Metric three from the WRES reports: 2016 - 2022 







2020 -2021 

2021 -2022 

Relative likelihood of BME staff entering the formal disciplinary process compared to white staff 








A further breakdown in the data shows that in 2022 half of trusts were still 1.25 times more likely to see ethnic minority staff enter a formal disciplinary process compared to white staff.