Better anti-racism policies could boost the NHS workforce, an independent body focused on tackling ethnic inequalities has said.
The NHS Race and Health Observatory was formed in 2021 to examine disparities in health and social care based on race.
The organisation is calling for “better care, training and anti-racist policies” to enhance staff numbers in the NHS, and said this would “improve patient experience and save millions of pounds spent annually on addressing racism claims brought by staff, clinicians and patients”.
The observatory also revealed as part of the NHS Confed Expo conference that it would be publishing a new review exploring the cost of racism to the NHS this summer.
The body said race claims resulting in formal proceedings “run into millions of pounds for the NHS annually” and the emotional impact of discrimination can be “equally devastating”.
Observatory chairwoman Marie Gabriel added: “Racism is costing the NHS millions and is a high and avoidable price to pay from public funds.
“This resource could instead be directed towards ensuring better access, outcomes and experience for those who use services and work in the NHS.”
Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar for the Nursing and Midwifery Council, said racism and discrimination in the field “persists” and is “utterly unacceptable”.
She added: “It destroys people’s confidence, undermines morale, destabilises team working and directly impacts on safety.
“With more than a quarter of our register coming from black and other minority ethnic communities, it’s more important than ever for employers to create inclusive, anti-racist cultures, free from discrimination and bias.”
In a speech on Wednesday, Lord Victor Adebowale, chairman of the NHS Confederation, said that while ConfedExpo is an “opportunity to refocus” discussions on difficult issues should still be happening.
He added: “Too many of our colleagues suffer discrimination, bullying and harassment. The WRES (Workforce Race Equality Standard) 2023 data has shown clearly the increase in BME staff receiving harassment and abuse.
“We are only just starting to tackle discrimination against people with disabilities and people from LGBTQ+ communities. Our data must improve and we must act on it.”
Yvonne Coghill, former NHS WRES director, said: “We have so much data and research to learning from.
“Health leaders now need to simply get on with demonstrably making the necessary changes to ensure equity is embedded throughout the service.”
Published: by Radio NewsHub