NHS continues to offer DEI roles, despite a ban on “woke” jobs

NHS jobs controversy shows leaders misunderstand inclusive strategy

Despite being heavily criticised by some, the NHS continues to advertise for DEI recruitment, acknowledging that discrimination is still rife in the UK healthcare sector.

Two months after being ordered to stop recruiting ‘woke jobs’, the NHS is advertising a dozen well-paid positions in equality, diversity and inclusion. There are currently 12 DEI posts on the leading NHS jobs site, all of which have been advertised in the last month.

Interestingly, the NHS is still recruiting for these roles despite Sajid Javid, then Secretary of State for Health, saying at the beginning of June that there were “too many people in jobs that are solely focused on diversity and inclusion… we need to spend every penny on patient priorities”. 

This controversy over DEI employment shows that politicians and leaders do not understand the role and power of a diversity and inclusion strategy. And this is very worrying. 

Better care 

It is important to remember that an inclusion strategy is in the interest of patients because it leads to better care. When health workers work in good conditions, with less discrimination, an inclusive workplace leads to better awareness, mental health, and salaries.

In terms of the team, it is also essential to build an inclusive workforce with professionals from different backgrounds. Everyone is aware of the problems of discrimination that have persisted for many years in the NHS. And it is clearly time to put in place a strategy to improve this situation. 

Financial and human resources

When it comes to the wages, the announcement states that three of them go up to £60,000, and eight others are paid at least £40,000. The 12 posts will cost between £474,236 and £540,827 per year.

This amount may seem high, but it is important to analyse the impact of this investment. To do this, decision-makers need to consider that the investment is not only about money but also about people. Implementing inclusion strategies involves financial and human resources.

In this case, NHS decision-makers have decided to open up roles that will enable the development of an inclusion strategy for the NHS, which still has a lot of work to do on equality and diversity.

Ensure inclusion

The NHS’s choices make sense when you consider that some of the posts advertised are in predominantly white areas. For example, the North East is the least ethnically diverse of the ten regions in England, with 95.3% of the population identifying as white. James Duncan, Chief Executive of NWTC, said, “This post will reach out to communities across the trust to ensure inclusion and contribution from all the communities we are serving.”

These include the post of Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at St Helens & Knowsley Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, on the outskirts of Liverpool, which will pay between £56,164 and £65,262. The trust serves 360,000 people in a predominantly white working-class area, and its latest annual report states that “our communities are not ethnically diverse but have high levels of deprivation”. 

Diverse staff

Cumbria, Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which provides mental health and disability services across the North East, is looking for a ‘Diversity Manager in Participation and Lived Experience’, a post paying up to £40,588.

The advert states that it wants to develop a “workforce in our services that is inclusive, equitable and representative of our communities, including race, religion, sexual orientation, age, disability and gender”.

Cornwall Partnership NHS Foundation Trust is looking for a DEI engagement coordinator who is “passionate about inclusion and diversity” and paid between £32,306 and £39,027. Cornwall is 98% white. 

Regardless of the polemics, it is clear that all these positions will create teams with a more diverse and representative staff. And this strategy of inclusion cannot succeed unless the NHS invests in qualified workforces.

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