A diverse NHS workforce reflects society and they are subject to the same inequalities as the wider population. This means that workforce has been hit hard by the virus. ONS figures show that in July 1.58% of those in patient facing roles tested positive for COVID-19, this is compared to 0.27% of people who worked at home. Additionally, a HSJ article found that of NHS staff who had died of COVID-19, a disproportionately high percentage were from Black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Members of some Black, Asian and minority ethnic communities are more likely to be key workers, an IFS study published just beyond the peak found that two in ten Black African women are employed in the health and social care sector. Trusts have worked hard to provide risk assessments for Black, Asian and minority ethnic staff, and in the wake of the outbreak are taking steps to make this equitable for all.
This has shone a light on the need to support the workforce and ensure equity. The 2019 NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard found that white applicants were 1.46 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting compared to Black, Asian and minority ethnic candidates, but that the total number of staff from a Black, Asian and minority ethnic background in very senior manager pay bands had increased year on year since 2016. This shows some improvement in the race wage gap, there is still more to do.
Trusts understand that issues with race and ethnicity don't stop at the trust door, and experiences of racism and discrimination are likely to affect how staff feel and how they interact with work. By using national programmes such as the NeXT director programme, and more trust level initiatives like reverse mentoring, trusts and the wider system will benefit the individual and the organisation now and in the future.