Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature The NHS if . . .

What if NHS leaders were more representative of patients and staff?

BMJ 2016; 355 doi: (Published 02 November 2016) Cite this as: BMJ 2016;355:i5828
  1. Vijaya Nath, director of leadership development
  1. Leadership Foundation for Higher Education, London WC1X 8LZ, UK
  1. Vijaya.Nath{at}

More diversity at senior level would enable the NHS to better serve its patients, writes Vijaya Nath

Since the NHS was created, the patients it treats have become increasingly diverse. But some patients, perhaps because of their age, sex, or ethnicity, have worse experiences than others—for example, in unequal access to care, variation in health outcomes, or care that is not tailored to their needs.

The NHS is one of the most multicultural employers in England, but lack of diversity in its leadership is a barrier to it achieving its full potential.

Elitist leadership

NHS leadership, often criticised for being elitist, does not reflect and therefore cannot truly represent the diversity of its patient population or its workforce. Although non-white people make up about 14% of the …

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