Embracing diversity in the NHS head office

The core values of the NHS include respect, dignity, compassion and inclusion; NHS Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens has pledged the upper echelons of the NHS will ‘match the wider workforce’.


‘Making the Difference: Diversity and inclusion in the NHS’ states that the last 20 years in the NHS has seen little progress to address discrimination against black and minority ethnic staff.

The most recent statistics from the NHS Staff Survey 2019 show that again, abuse from BME staff has increased to 30.3%.

That’s up from 28.5% in 2017.

Other staff groups discriminated against include LGBT staff, people with disabilities and religious groups.

According to government figures, 20.7% of NHS staff are from other ethnic groups outside of White.

Non-medical staff from minority groups make up a smaller number at more senior bands; 8a upwards.

Asian staff make up the largest minority group of staff at 10% of all staff.

At very senior management levels, ethnic minorities make up only 7% of employees.


Speaking in Doncaster on the 5th March, Sir Simon pledged to hit a target of 19% ‘representation’ at every pay band.

1000 additional staff will be from BME groups holding senior roles ‘at the centre of the NHS by 2025’.

Sir Simon said: “Diversity in leadership brings benefits for everyone – both employees and patients”.

“Greater innovation, access to a wider pool of talent, and it means a better place to work, with even greater impact”.

The pledge comes at a time in an increasingly diverse British society striving for more inclusivity.

The move is a positive step, although some critics ask if it will deter those from majority backgrounds with the required skills from applying for top jobs.

Dr Habib Naqvi, NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard deputy director said: “The NHS is at its best when it reflects the diversity of the country at all levels”.

Some argue the increasingly diverse nature of recruitment methods is becoming a tick box exercise.