Black and minority ethnic (BME) representation at the top levels of nursing have worsened over the past ten years, a former NHS chief executive has claimed.
Just five of the 195 NHS directors of nursing in England are black, adding up to just 2.6%.
Department of Health figures show there are 180 white nursing directors, and ten have not stated their ethnicity.
However, a fifth (20%) of nurses in England are from a BME background, and 14% of England’s population is BME.
Lord Nigel Crisp addressed the House of Lords to raise the profile of what he considers to be a big issue.
He said: “If the NHS is going to serve people well, we need to make the best of everyone and the talent of all NHS staff. I feel we are not getting the best out of BME staff.”
Lord Crisp launched an action plan in 2004 which included a call for all NHS chief executives to mentor a member of BME staff, aiming to boost the career prospects of BME nurses. But he feels that ten years on, not much has changed.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing said the failure of the NHS to make full use of BME nursing staff is “simply unacceptable”.
He said: “The NHS should be a champion of equality and fairness. Managers need to act now to promote equality in the workplace and ensure BME nurses are fully supported in accessing leadership programmes and taking on senior roles."