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Half of minority ethnic NHS leaders have considered quitting due to racism, survey finds

By MiP

An NHS Confederation survey of ethnic minority senior leaders in the NHS has found that more than half have considered leaving their jobs in the last three years due to experiences of racism.

The survey of 120 senior managers in both clinical and non-clinical roles was carried out by the NHS Confederation’s BME Leadership Network. The survey was followed by a series of roundtable discussions where participants could expand on their experiences.

Key findings from the survey include:

  • More than half (51%) of respondents said they have considered leaving the NHS in the last three years due to racist treatment while performing their duties as an NHS leader
  • Of those who had considered leaving, only 10% stated they decided to stay because the issue had been resolved, with 42% still considering their position.
  • Leaders were more likely to experience racist treatment from peers (72%) than members of the public (52%)
  • More than 20% said they had experienced verbal abuse or abusive behaviour targeting their racial, national or cultural heritage five times or more in the last three years
  • Over 60% of leaders would have reservations recommending their role as a senior NHS leader to members of their community

Commenting on the survey, MiP chief executive Jon Restell said: “Just because someone has a senior job in the NHS, it does not mean they are shielded from racism and discrimination – nor does it make it in any way more palatable. Senior managers in the health service already work in extremely challenging environments under intense pressure – there can be no place for racism in any form.

“This survey sadly chimes with what managers constantly tell us: that the NHS’s ambition to achieve equality is not materialising on the ground,” Restell continued. “A diverse leadership brings diversity of thought, experience and skills, benefitting patients and staff. More work must be done to ensure equality rhetoric is being matched in action.”

This survey follows the publication on 8 June of General Sir Gordon Messenger’s review of NHS management and leadership which recommended more action to improve equality, diversity and inclusion. The review recognised that, despite good good practice in some areas, race discrimination is still far too common an experience for NHS leaders.

"The Messenger review recommends ‘more stringently’ enforcing existing measures on race equality,” Restell added. “MiP welcomes that and urges NHS England to engage the management world including MiP on how to make leaders accountable.”

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