Skip to main content

Revealed: The ethnically diverse trusts with all-white leadership

Published on: 12 Apr 2022

Analysis of new data has identified multiple trusts which appear to have no executives or very senior managers from a minority ethnic background, despite their workforces being relatively diverse.

In 2020, NHS England told local organisations to ensure their leadership matches the diversity of their workforce or community, whichever is higher, within five years.

But analysis of workforce race equality standard data for 2021, published last week, suggests many trusts had made little to no progress on this requirement at the time the data was collected.

For example, the data reveals multiple trusts where more than a fifth of the workforce was declared as being from an ethnic minority background, yet all their executive board members and non-clinical ‘very senior managers’ were white. 

Of these trusts, Yeovil District Hospital Foundation Trust was the only one where its entire board, including its non-executives, was declared as white. This does not appear to have changed since the data was collected. 

The data was collected at the end of March 2021. NHSE collected the figures through submissions from trusts via the NHS Digital strategic data collection service.

Barking, Havering And Redbridge University Hospitals Trust has since appointed a board-level executive director of equality and diversity, as well as a number of VSMs from an ethnic minority background.

It added: “We know we still have more to do to ensure the diverse nature of our community and workforce is also reflected in our leadership roles. We’ve launched a number of new initiatives to help achieve this, including supporting opportunities for colleagues from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds and improving our external recruitment to boost applications from diverse talent.”

The Dudley Group FT said in a statement: “Establishing a diverse workforce at all levels within the trust is a key priority for The Dudley Group… We have seen an upward trend in recruiting our non-executive directors, of which 30 per cent are from a diverse ethnic background.”

QEH King’s Lynn said: “Being an inclusive and equal opportunities employer is extremely important to us and we know we still have work to do, especially across our executive and very senior manager positions. All staff, including board-level appointments, are recruited on merit following a fair and competitive process.”

It added it now has a recruitment process which requires all shortlisting and interview panels for medical and band 7 and above roles to include at least one person from an ethnic minority background.

Yeovil Hospital said: “The results of the latest NHS staff survey show that YDH remains one of the best trusts to work for in England according to our own staff, but we recognise that we need to do more to ensure the senior leadership of our organisation is more representative of our wider workforce.”

Royal Papworth Hospital FT, and East Suffolk and North Essex FT said all their VSMs are executive board members. The former added that it strives to attract candidates from as wide and diverse a group as possible, while the latter said it had several projects ongoing to improve diversity and equality.