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NHS Confederation launches new network to strengthen the voice of BME leaders

A new network has been launched to strengthen the voice of BME leaders in England and support health and care organisations to meet the needs of all communities.

The NHS Confederation, which represents organisations from across the health service, has set up the network to help leaders address the barriers to delivering the NHS Constitution’s commitment to meet the needs of all our communities.

The network will meet for the first time this afternoon (Monday 18 March), with keynote speeches from NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens; Professor Dame Donna Kinnair, acting chief executive and general secretary at the Royal College of Nursing; Professor Dame Elizabeth Anionwu, Emeritus Professor of Nursing at the University of West London; and Ifti Majid, co-chair of the BME Network and chief executive of Derbyshire Healthcare.

The network will also be co-chaired by Danielle Oum, chair of Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust. It will offer opportunity and space for BME leaders, including chief executives and non-executives to come together to:

  • Improve understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion and publish the benefits to help deliver better care for all
  • Improve and sustain the number of BME leaders working in the NHS
  • Profile the diverse range of BME leaders delivering solutions across the health and care system.

The BME Leadership Network will work with front-line leaders and those at national level to help the NHS become the diverse and inclusive service it aspires to be. The network will be a prominent voice on equality, diversity and inclusion issues and will publish a range of reports and other activities. The first report, to be published in April, will examine falling diversity among chair and non-executive roles on the Boards of NHS organisations.

Joan Saddler, associate director at the NHS Confederation and co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, said: “The benefits to the NHS of a more equal and diverse leadership are well understood. But if NHS organisation are to create a sustainable pipeline of diverse leaders serving all communities then we must seek ways to accelerate this transition at the top.

“More diverse leadership of the NHS is more likely to champion patient and staff engagement and transform the culture of the health service. Through our new BME Leadership Network, the NHS Confederation is tackling this issue head-on.”

NHS Confederation chief executive Niall Dickson added: “A diversity leadership is not an optional extra, it is essential for the future of the NHS.  Despite various pledges, there are already signs that the NHS is struggling to meet its equality and diversity ambitions.

“For too long we have had fine rhetoric but too little action – and it has to start at the top. That is what the BME Leadership Network will set out to deliver.

“The goals of the Long Term Plan will not be achieved without significant progress in equality, diversity and inclusion, both in the treatment of patients and of our staff. It is of course about fairness, but it is also about good governance and improving the quality of patient care and staff engagement.” 

If you would like to find out more and to get involved in the network, please email Joan Saddler, associate director at the NHS Confederation and co-chair of the NHS Equality and Diversity Council, at joan.saddler@nhsconfed.org

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Original article link: https://www.nhsconfed.org/news/2019/03/bme-leadership-network

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