NHS Providers new four-year strategy has made race equality a key priority. We have embarked on two closely related workstreams as a result.

Our first internal workstream intends to ensure we are embedding a focus on tackling racial injustice and structural racism through all our influencing and support activity, and in our culture and processes. Starting with an internal diagnostic exercise, the work has involved a programme of staff engagement, including understanding key data such as our staff survey results and internal policies and processes. The diagnostic exercise will inform an internal action plan which we will finalise in spring 2022.

Our second member facing workstream focuses on supporting provider boards to address race inequalities impacting both staff, patients and service users within their organisation, as well as helping boards to actively champion an anti-racist approach in their neighbourhood, place and system partnerships. Our starting point for scoping this support offer has been stakeholder engagement and a horizon scan of other initiatives to ensure we complement rather than duplicate work being done elsewhere and learn from what has worked.

Given the critical role of board leadership in driving real change on race equality and wider health inequalities, we then asked chairs, chief executives and NEDs to contribute to an NHS Providers survey on these two closely related challenges and interviewed 18 chairs and chief executives to gather a more in-depth perspective. There were 254 responses to the survey. The responses were from 134 trusts, representing 63% of our membership and all trust types. 28% (71) of responses were from chairs, 14% (33) were from chief executives, 45% were from non-executive directors and 11% were other job roles.

This report summaries our survey and interview findings, providing an honest playback of where trusts say they are in terms of race equality. It:

  1. Explores the areas where boards feel they have made most/least progress.
  2. Describes some of the challenges members say they experience in trying to drive forward the race equality agenda.
  3. Identifies what trust leaders see as the key elements of good practice.
  4. Captures member views on what an NHS Providers support offer could look like to help boards accelerate the pace of change.
  5. Reports what trust leaders think the national bodies could do differently to help NHS boards in this task.

The report concludes by setting out the next steps in ensuring NHS Providers is leading by example on race equality, and how we will use these survey and interview findings to develop a support offer which helps our members to do the same.