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NHS axes targets on diversity and inclusion

NHS axes targets on diversity and inclusion: Trusts are told to abandon goal on boosting BAME ‘disparity ratio’ in crackdown on wokery

  • Health chiefs have issued a slimmed down list of objectives for the year ahead
  • It means trusts no longer accountable for improving ethnic ‘disparity ratio’
  • This is whether proportion of minority ethnic staff is reflected in senior leaders

The NHS has axed targets on diversity and inclusion as part of a drive to cut red tape and place a greater focus on patient care.

Health chiefs have issued a slimmed down list of objectives for the year ahead, with the number of things managers ‘must do’ slashed from 130 in 2022/23 to 35.

It means trusts will no longer be held accountable for improving the service’s black, Asian and minority ethnic ‘disparity ratio’.

This refers to whether the proportion of minority ethnic staff in local organisations is reflected among their senior leaders.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has expressed his desire to reduce NHS micromanagement and comes as NHS England looks to cut staffing levels

More than 7.2million patients in England were stuck in the backlog in October (red line)— or one in eight people. More than 400,000 have queued for at least one year (yellow bars)

Managers were previously ordered to boost representation by ‘delivering the six high-impact actions to overhaul recruitment and promotion practices’.

Actions included ‘owning the agenda’ of diversity in recruitment, ‘introduce a system of ‘comply or explain’, and overhauling interview processes.

The new NHS England planning guidance for trusts and integrated care systems is significantly shorter than previous years at just 20 pages, compared to between 30 and 60 previously.

Health Secretary Steve Barclay has expressed his desire to reduce NHS micromanagement and comes as NHS England looks to cut staffing levels.

Habib Naqvi, director of the NHS Race and Health Observatory, told the Health Service Journal: ‘Workforce race equality data tell us how important it is for the NHS to keep steadfast in its pursuit of understanding, and actively improving, the experiences of its diverse workforce.

‘The NHS is the largest employer of black, Asian and ethnic minority people in England; it is vital therefore that these staff are provided with equality of opportunity with regard to recruitment, career progression and promotion, as afforded to their white colleagues.’

Health service bosses have come under fire for spending millions of pounds on ‘woke non-jobs’ as frontline workers strike for better pay.

More than £1million of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’-related positions are on offer in hospitals and trusts across England and Wales, with most salaries dwarfing that of the average nurse, the Daily Mail has revealed.

It comes as the beleaguered NHS struggles with a record-high 7.2million waiting list and battles walkouts by nurses and paramedics.

One trust is advertising for a ‘mindfulness lead’ to help staff meditate, for £40,000 a year.

Another is looking for someone to ‘act as a change agent’, for up to £54,000, while a third health board offers its ‘lived experience training lead’ free yoga and Pilates sessions.

Of the 20 ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ (EDI)-related adverts analysed, two thirds offered higher salaries than the average nurse’s annual pay packet of £33,384, as estimated by the Royal College of Nursing.

The NHS spends around £150billion-a-year, of which just under 43 per cent is spent on staff wages. Graphic shows: A pie chart of Department of Health and Social Care revenue spending on the NHS (left) in 2019/20 and areas where expenditure is seen to have been wasted (right)

HM Treasury data shows the NHS annual budget. In 2020/21, the NHS was given £129.7billion of core funding for its usual services, which was topped up with an extra £18billion to help with the pressures from the pandemic. For 2021/22 the Treasury said the health service received £136.1billion pounds of core funding, as well as £3billion to help with the Covid recovery. The health service has been allocated £151.8billion for 2022/23 and £157.4billion for 2023/34. The Autumn Statement topped up these figures by £3.3billion each

The most lucrative ad, for an ‘associate director of equality, diversity and inclusion’, paid almost three times this figure at nearly £97,000.

It comes six months after former health secretary Sajid Javid said there were ‘too many working in roles focused solely on diversity and inclusion’ in the health service.

Mr Barclay has asked the NHS to publish online data showing how many staff work in each of its departments, including those focused on diversity schemes.

Several requirements on staff have been removed from the 2023/24 guidance, including to ‘continue to support the health and wellbeing of our staff, including through effective health and wellbeing conversations’ and ‘continued funding of mental health hubs to enable staff access to enhanced occupational health and wellbeing and psychological support’.

Forty-one hubs are likely to be closed as national ring-fenced funding is expected to be cut.

Other dropped actions include reducing 12-hour waits in emergency departments towards zero and ensuring 65 per cent of handovers take place within 15 minutes of patients’ arrivals at hospital.

A small number of new targets have been introduced, including for hospital trusts to see 76 per cent of accident and emergency patients within four hours by the end of 2023/24.

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