NHS BOSS CRITICISES LACK OF DIVERSITY IN MANAGEMENT
New chief executive says there is a lack of managers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds involved in running hospitals.
The NHS‘s new boss has criticised the lamentable lack of managers from black and ethnic minority backgrounds involved in running hospitals which, he warned, meant they are not reflecting the communities they serve.
Simon Stevens, who began last month as chief executive of NHS England, said he is so concerned that he is developing a plan to tackle the service’s inaction over the lack of diversity in its leadership, which he claimed was holding the NHS back.
This comes only a a few months after Roger Kline. Research Fellow, Middlesex University Business School published a research paper entitled “The “snowy white peaks” of the NHS: a survey of discrimination in governance and leadership and the potential impact on patient care in London and England, in In March 2014. The report presented a very poor picture of the diversity in the NHS leadership. Download the report here.
Despite pledging a decade ago to address the stark imbalance, the NHS’s record was poor and worsening, Stevens said in a speech, at the King’s Fund health thinktank, on the need for cultural change and strong leadership.
“It can’t be right that 10 years after the launch of the NHS race-equality plan, while 41% of NHS staff in London are from black and ethnic minority backgrounds, similar in proportion to the Londoners they serve, only 8% of trust board directors are, with two-fifths of London trust boards having no BME directors at all.
“Similar patterns apply elsewhere, and have actually been going backwards,” Stevens added.
The chronic lack of non-white faces in senior positions meant the NHS was missing out, he added. “Yet diversity in leadership is associated with more patient-centred care, greater innovation, higher staff morale, and access to a wider talent pool,” he told an audience of about 250 NHS leaders.
He himself had benefited in his career from having had three black bosses and a woman as his line manager, though they were all colleagues when he was working outside of the NHS, said Stevens.
The 47-year-old worked as an NHS manager before becoming a special adviser to Labour health secretaries Frank Dobson and Alan Milburn in the early years of Tony Blair’s government and then with Blair in Downing Street. He has spent the last decade since quitting No 10 for a senior post with UnitedHealth, the American private health group.
Sir David Nicholson, whom Stevens replaced on 1 April, recently identified the lack of black and ethnic minority bosses across the NHS as one of the failings of his eight years in the job.
Stevens has asked an equality and diversity group within NHS England to come up with ideas to tackle the shortage by the time it next meets on 29 July.
In the speech Stevens also hinted, for the second time in his few public appearances so far, that he opposes the idea, widely supported by health policymakers, that specialist medical and surgical services should be heavily centralised, calling into question the viability of smaller hospitals.
“We need to give careful weight to communities’ own values and preferences for access versus specialisation,” he said, in a coded warning that the push to centralise risked alienating local people.
The turnaround in the fortunes of Hinchingbrooke hospital in Cambridgeshire, which for two years has been run by the private healthcare firm Circle, showed that smaller district general hospitals could have a sustainable future, he added.