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NHS pledges to eliminate ethnicity pay gap

NHS ANALYSIS: The health service's ethnicity pay gap is at its most stark among senior, non-clinical managers

HEALTH MINISTER Stephen Barclay has today set an ambitious goal for the NHS to ensure BAME representation at very senior management levels – such as NHS chief executives - will match that across the rest of the NHS workforce within 10 years.

The announcement comes in response to an NHS pay analysis, which revealed ethnicity pay gaps within the NHS.

Barclay said: “The NHS is a leading light of talent for people from all communities and backgrounds, with diversity levels far in excess of the national average. However, it is unacceptable that this is still not reflected at the very top of the organisation – this kind of inequality has no place in a modern employer and I’m determined to tackle it.

“That’s why I have set an ambitious goal for the NHS to ensure its leadership is as diverse as the rest of the workforce within the next 10 years, supporting a culture that allows diversity to thrive at all levels.”

The research into pay in the health service was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care as part of the government’s drive to tackle inequality in the workplace.

The NHS ethnicity pay gap is at its most stark among senior, non-clinical managers - where BAME male managers earn on average 11% less than white male managers and similarly 9% less for BAME female managers.

This is due to fewer BAME staff reaching the most senior levels of the NHS, and as a result, receiving lower average pay. Diversity across the NHS is above the national average, with BAME staff making up 17% of the non-medical NHS workforce. However, only 11% of senior managers are BAME, dropping to just 6.4% at a very senior level.

NHS bodies, such as NHS England and Public Health England, are also committing to a new Race at Work Charter, announced today, which will recognise organisations and business leaders who are taking action to understand and tackle barriers to recruitment or career progression for those from ethnic minority backgrounds.

In September, the NHS became one of the first public sector organisations to publish breakdowns of pay for all staff by ethnic group, with some individual trusts already publishing their own data and taking action.

Earlier this year, Sarah-Jane Marsh, chief executive of Birmingham Women’s and Children’s NHS Trust announced that she would no longer sit on interview panels for senior positions without BAME representation after the trust’s own figures revealed ethnic minorities were less likely to succeed at interview.

Marsh, who is also chairperson of the National Maternity Transformation Programme, said: “The NHS is alight with some of the most skilled, experienced and talented people imaginable. Each and every one of us deserves support to reach our full potential, and to not be held back by anything, including our ethnicity.

"Helping to remove some of the obstacles that BAME leaders face, will empower and inspire individuals who have the capability to be in senior leadership roles, but are not quite making it there for a variety of reasons. In turn this will improve the healthcare we provide to every person in this country.

“Today's announcement is a huge commitment, and will take focused implementation, but if successful, the NHS will be all the richer for it.”

The NHS will be expected to implement similar measures which tackle the root causes of leadership inequality in order to achieve the ambition.

In addition, a number of the department’s bodies, including NHS England, Public Health England and Health Education England, have signed up to the new Race at Work Charter, which will recognise organisations who sign up to the five calls to action from the McGregor Smith one year on review completed by Business in the Community to: appoint an executive sponsor for race, capture data and publicise progress, commit at board level to zero tolerance of harassment and bullying, make clear that supporting equality in the workplace is the responsibility of all leaders and managers and take action that supports ethnic minority career progression.

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