RCSEd President Responds to Publication of the 2020 NHS Staff Survey in England

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12 Mar 2021

Responding to the publication of the 2020 NHS Staff survey in England, Professor Michael Griffin OBE, President of the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh said:

2020 was an exceptional year for the NHS as the service faced the worst crisis in its history. Many NHS staff had to face unprecedented challenges throughout the pandemic but their dedication, professionalism and commitment were humbling.

The extraordinary circumstances can explain some of the survey’s findings such as those around workplace stress and illness. Over a third of all NHS staff worked on a Covid specific ward or area, so the workforce is generally tired and in urgent need of rest before work to tackle the backlog of operations and consultations can start in earnest.

Nevertheless, we remain hugely worried at the unacceptably high levels of bullying, harassment and abuse and very concerned at the very different experiences of black and minority ethnic staff, who were more likely than their white colleagues to report working in coronavirus settings or redeployed from their normal work.

Further, there was a big rise in the number of NHS staff who experienced discrimination on the basis of their ethnic background, with 16.7% of BAME staff reported experiencing discrimination at work from a manager, team leader or other colleague. This compared with 6.2% of white staff.

Only 69% of BAME staff felt their organisation provides equal opportunities compared to 87% of their white colleagues. These unacceptably poor numbers clearly illustrate the scale of the problem for the NHS in ensuring it is an inclusive and diverse organisation.

The report needs to act as an urgent wake up call for radical improvements in equality and diversity.


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