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Job discrimination for ethnic minority nurses

Ethnic minority nursing graduates are being discriminated against when applying for their first job, a study shows, calling NHS equal opportunities into question.

The study carried out on behalf of NHS London and published today (12 January 2013) in the International Journal of Nursing Studies found Black African and Asian Chinese students took the longest to get a job compared to their white British counterparts.

Author of the study, Professor Ruth Harris from the Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education at Kingston University and St George's, University of London said: "We discovered that, all other factors being equal, ethnicity is highly significant in determining whether a new nurse secures a job offer before qualification."

The study examined questionnaires and university data from more than 800 final year students who studied in the capital. 

Black and ethnic minority nursing graduates were also pessimistic about their chances of getting a job, the study revealed. 

A paper also published in the International Journal of Nursing Studies suggested universities' focus on widening participation and NHS equal opportunities policies may not have had as much affect as many people hoped.

Professor Fiona Ross, Dean of Kingston and St George's Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education said: “The NHS has also put considerable efforts into promoting equal opportunities in employment. “But the impact of all this is clearly limited if ethnic minority students are then less successful in obtaining a good first job and subsequent career progression."

An NHS London spokesperson said: “NHS London welcomes this early work that was commissioned by our chief nurse, Professor Trish Morris Thompson and will be integrating the initial findings into education commissioning plans. 

“We also welcome the valuable contribution this work makes towards improving the quality of our future nursing workforce and ultimately patient care.”

Wendy Irwin, equalities coordinator at the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said: “It is vital that nurse employers make a conscious and sustained effort to ensure that they remove unfair and unlawful obstacles that are placed in the way of newly-qualified black and minority ethnic nurses and their search for their first roles. 

“RCN is launching a project later on in 2013 to encourage employers to improve their performance around issues such as these.”

This research was part of a series of studies commissioned by NHS London in response to concerns over opportunities for newly qualified nurses.