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Quarter of minority ethnic bank staff report discrimination

Published on: 23 May 2024

Nearly one in seven NHS bank-only workers say they have been discriminated against by patients and the public in the past year, according to an NHS England survey.

Results published today put this percentage at 13.1 per cent in 2023. That is up from 12.5 per cent the previous year and is significantly higher than the 8.5 per cent reported by substantive workers in the 2023 overall NHS Staff Survey, which was the highest ever recorded.

Today’s figures are for the second year the survey of NHS bank workers has been run.

When disaggregated by ethnicity, the figure reporting discrimination by patients and public rises to 25.1 per cent among those from all other ethnic groups combined, compared to 7 per cent of white staff.

The survey also found nearly a quarter of all bank respondents — or 23.7 per cent — had experienced at least one incident of physical violence from patients or the public within the past 12 months. Although results for this question were not included in the main survey this year, they were markedly higher than those reported by substantive staff in 2022, a figure of 14.6 per cent.

Meanwhile, 30.2 per cent of bank staff said they had experienced at least one incident of harassment, bullying or abuse within the past 12 months from patients, service users or other members of the public. For nursing and healthcare assistants, this figure was 50 per cent, followed by 24.2 per cent for registered nurses.

For all female white staff it was 28.8 per cent; for female staff from all other ethnic groups it was 32.5 per cent; for male white staff it was 29 per cent; and for male staff from all other ethnic groups it was 31.9 per cent.

For all substantive staff in the overall survey, this figure was 25.8 per cent.

Some 26,252 staff in England responded to the survey out of the more than 146,000 eligible (an 18 per cent response rate), between September and November last year. The largest groups were registered nurses and midwives, and nursing or healthcare assistants — with around 6,000 respondents from each group.

The survey was only open to bank staff who did not also have a substantive or fixed-term contract and to those on an NHS provider’s bank (not external bank services).

Bank workers were also asked whether they had experienced any unwanted behaviour of a sexual nature at work within the last 12 months. It found 13.6 per cent of bank workers said they had experienced this from patients and the public and 4.8 per cent from managers or other colleagues.

NHSE confirmed the question — included for the first time in 2023 — would return this year to “help us understand the potential prevalence of sexual misconduct… and inform further action”.

However, overall, most respondents said they felt happy and satisfied with their work. Nearly nine in 10 bank workers — or 89.1 per cent — said they feel they make a difference to patients and service users in their roles.

More than two-thirds of bank-only workers said they would recommend their organisation as a place to work (66.8 per cent) and be happy with the care a friend or relative received (66.6 per cent).

Navina Evans, NHSE’s chief workforce officer, said the survey showed, on the whole, bank workers feel “supported, valued, and keen to stay working in the NHS and caring for patients”.

She added: “It is however wholly unacceptable that nearly a quarter of respondents experienced physical violence, and one in seven experienced discrimination from patients and the public in the past year.

“Everyone working in the NHS should feel safe from discrimination or abuse, able to raise concerns, and be confident that concerns are taken seriously and acted on.

“All staff are encouraged to report any instance of such behaviour, with support from the national Freedom to Speak Up Policy.

“The NHS violence prevention and reduction tool is also supporting organisations in addressing violence against staff with practical steps including a designated board member to monitor progress and training for staff.”