Intended for healthcare professionals


White NHS staff are more likely to secure jobs

BMJ 2017; 359 doi: (Published 28 December 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;359:j5841
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. BMJ Careers
  1. arimmer{at}

The Workforce Race Equality Standard 2017 gathers data from all NHS trusts in England and covers 1.3 million staff members, of whom 425 000 identified as being from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background.1 Data on staff members were not broken down by profession.


White applicants who have been shortlisted for a role are 1.6 times more likely to be appointed than BME applicants. In 27 trusts (11%), white staff were twice as likely as BME staff to be appointed.

Very senior managers

The number of very senior managers from BME backgrounds increased by 18% from 2016 to 2017, up from 212 to 250 in England. But only 7% of all very senior managers are from BME backgrounds, still significantly lower than BME representation in the overall NHS workforce (18%) and in their local communities (12%).


BME staff are still significantly more likely to experience discrimination at work from colleagues or their managers than white staff: 14%, compared with 6%. However, 28% of white staff and 29% of BME staff had experienced harassment, bullying, or abuse from patients, relatives, or members of the public in the past 12 months.

Disciplinary process

Staff from a BME background were 1.37 times more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process than white staff, down slightly from 1.56 in 2016. In 79 trusts (34%), the likelihood of staff entering the disciplinary process was equal among white and BME staff or was higher among white staff.

Board members

The number of NHS trusts with more than one BME board member has increased steadily. Some 25 NHS trusts now have three or more people from a BME background on their board, an increase of nine trusts since 2016.


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