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Diverse, Inclusive, Together 

NHS Employers has held its seventh week on equality and diversity (May 14-18), concluding with a summit on disability. 


Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week, (#EQW2018) is a national platform for organisations to highlight their work to create a fairer, more inclusive NHS for patients and staff. The event saw health and social care organisations across England hold over one hundred workshops, activities, events and awareness training sessions.


Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, says: “Once again, through the vehicle of Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week, we have seen the breadth and variety of commitment to the principles of fairness, equity and inclusion from NHS leaders and teams across England."


The week’s theme 'Diverse, Inclusive, Together', was chosen to reflect the move across the health and social care sector towards collaboration and integration, as underlined by NHS England’s Five Year Forward View.


Participating Trusts were given access to a toolkit and resources available on the website of NHS Employers. Barts Health, the second largest NHS Trust in the UK was main partner of the Disability Summit and also took part in #EQW2018, with its Inclusion team going to each of the hospital sites to make information available to staff on channels for raising concerns, and how to get involved with the staff diversity network subgroups.


At the Disability Summit, held at the Tower Hotel London, delegates heard the latest thinking of national disability policy initiatives. One of the event speakers was Jane Hatton, who delivered a speech entitled 'A dozen brilliant reasons to employ disabled people'. Disabled herself, Hatton is the founder of Evenbreak, an award-winning social enterprise run by and for disabled people.


“So often, when talking about ‘diversity and inclusion’, people just focus on race and gender and occasionally give a nod to LGBTQ+. Disability often seems the poor relation," she says.


“This is quite odd, when you think it’s not just about recruiting disabled people, but about retaining people as well. Two per cent of people of working age acquire a disability every year, so this is an issue for all organisations whether they like it or not.


“For the NHS, of course, attracting, retaining and nurturing disabled staff is of specific importance. With skills shortages, and the need to attract talented people into the sector, tapping into a wider talent pool is essential.”


NHS Employers and NHS England are currently working across the system on finalising the proposed introduction of the workforce disability equality standard (WDES) in March 2019.


The standard will go some way towards helping employers meet the ambition of the NHS and social care sector laid out in both the Five Year Forward View and the government’s ambitions to halve the current employment gap between disabled and non-disabled people.


Last year, NHS Employers worked closely with the Department for Work and Pensions and NHS England to encourage Trusts to migrate across to the new Disability Confident standard.   


The Disability Confident scheme supports employers to make the most of the talents that disabled people can bring to the workplace.


Equality, Diversity and Human Rights Week focused attention on this issue through hundreds of events designed to give information, encourage learning and improve tolerance. However, Danny Mortimer cautions that the NHS now needs to pick up the pace.


“These events, and some of the associated social media channels, have rightly expressed frustration at the lack of progress in too many areas. The challenge now for NHS leaders is to show the depth of their commitment and take sustained action to improve the experience of their staff and patients," he says.


“Since the first NHS Employers Disability Summit three years ago, the issues surrounding the employment rates and experiences of people with disabilities, including those with learning disabilities, are increasingly being discussed by policy makers and employers. This includes the government’s announcement in November 2017 to employ a million more disabled people over the next ten years.”


A diverse NHS, in numbers:


* 77% of the NHS workforce is made up of women, while women comprise 47% of England’s working population


* 47% of very senior manager roles in the NHS are held by women


* 77% of the NHS workforce is white; 5% black or black British; and 9% is Asian or Asian British. England’s overall working population is 86% white; 3% black or black British; 7% Asian British


* 43 years is the average age of an NHS employee, male and female.