Trusts highlight scale of change needed to tackle race equality

10 March 2022

A new report by NHS Providers, Race 2.0 - Time for real change, highlights the scale and scope of the challenge to improve racial equality across the NHS, alongside the commitment of boards, trust leaders and NHS Providers to drive real change in this area.

Race equality is rightly front and centre on NHS board agendas following the murder of George Floyd, the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement and COVID-19, which have shone a light on inequalities in a way like never before.

The report highlights trust leaders' views on what constitutes good practice. Ten key priorities were identified, including: building closer engagement with staff and community networks, fostering safe spaces, better education, focusing on personal values and behaviours, and openly challenging discrimination.

But despite this good practice, our new report also found just 4% of trust leaders said race equality was fully embedded as part of their board’s business.  

Trust leaders were candid about where they felt they need more support to make impactful progress on race equality. This included accelerating their learning and effective delivery of meaningful change, and what national bodies could do differently to help NHS boards in this task. 

Trust leaders voiced anger and frustration over the slow pace of progress, despite the long-standing evidence of the racial injustice faced by their staff as well as by patients and service users. Some also conveyed the difficulty they faced in having meaningful and challenging conversations at board level.

The survey also found:

Following conversations with white and ethnic minority trust leaders, and experts in the field, NHS Providers will be launching a new programme of support for trust leaders to drive meaningful change on race equality.

It will feature events and resources to help challenge mindsets and encourage personal accountability, evidence-based case studies on high-impact interventions and peer learning sessions, as well as signposting to other sources of support.

We also asked trusts about the role NHS Providers could and should play in accelerating the pace of change, and whether we, as an organisation, are 'walking the walk' when it comes to race equality.

NHS Providers will also be formulating an anti-racism statement in the coming weeks, to formalise and make clear its commitment to tackling racial inequality and becoming an actively anti-racist organisation.  

Commenting on the new report, the chief executive of NHS Providers, Chris Hopson said:

"This report makes clear the scale of the challenge in front of us to achieve true race equality – both in trusts, and for NHS Providers as an organisation.

"We acknowledge with today's report, and through our own internal work over the last year, that progress has not gone anywhere near far or fast enough.

"It is unacceptable that, in aggregate, whole sections of our population suffer worse health outcomes as a result of their ethnicity. And whole sections of our staff are unable to give of their best as a result of how they are treated, due to their race.

"It is clear that white leaders like myself need to do significantly more to effect much greater change at a faster pace."

The deputy chief executive of NHS Providers, Saffron Cordery said:

"We are committed to continuing our journey within NHS Providers and supporting members to do the same, to ensure this is a time of real change.

"We want to be authentic and collaborative in our approach, both ready to learn from others and to share learning and evidence based good practice on what trusts have done that has really made a difference, as well as learning from other sectors.

"We're ready to be held to account by trusts and by our staff on the commitments we make."