Intended for healthcare professionals

Feature Interview

Yvonne Coghill: cultural transformation through conversation

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 11 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m474

Read all of the articles in our special issue on Racism in Medicine

  1. Helen Jones, freelance journalist
  1. London
  1. hajones{at}

The Royal College of Nursing deputy president charged with making the NHS a fairer place to work for ethnic minority staff tells Helen Jones about her plans for success

“Motivated, valued, and respected staff give much more, they feel appreciated and part of something. A fully included workforce improves patient safety, patient care, and patient satisfaction,” says Yvonne Coghill, director of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) for NHS England, who aims to bring about “cultural transformation” across the NHS.

WRES was set up in 2015 to draw attention to and help close the gaps in inequalities between ethnic minority and white staff in the NHS. As Coghill explains: “We knew there was a problem, but couldn’t convince people from white backgrounds that there was a real issue because we didn’t have the data or evidence to show that there is a gaping hole between the experiences of BME [black and minority ethnic] and white staff. Now we have that data, and nobody can argue that there aren’t real issues for people in our NHS and how they are treated, received, and able to progress their careers.”

The latest WRES report indicates that the proportion of ethnic minority staff in very senior managerial positions was 6.9% in 2018—much lower than the proportion of ethnic minority staff (19.1%) in NHS trusts.1 In addition, white job applicants are more likely to be appointed …

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