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When will we see more diverse nursing leadership?

10 January 2019
Volume 28 · Issue 1

When you think about it, it really doesn't make sense: how can the NHS, the fifth-largest organisation in the world, employing over 1.7 million people, 20% (340 000) of whom are from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds, have so few senior leaders from those backgrounds? Nursing is no exception.

In London, we now know there are more BME nurses than nurses from a white background, 27 982 to 24 847 (Mitchell, 2018; Royal College of Nursing (RCN), 2018), we also have evidence from the 2017 Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) data that the BME nursing workforce increased by around 5000 while the white nursing workforce decreased by around 1500 (NHS England Quality and Diversity Council, 2017: 25–28).

Nurses are the backbone of the NHS and the evidence is that the nursing workforce is becoming increasingly more diverse. In fact, nurses in the NHS are more diverse than the population of England as a whole. People from BME backgrounds are significantly more likely to become nurses compared with their representation in the population. Black/Black British people are 2.2 times more likely to be a nurse compared with their overall representation in the population of England (NHS Digital, 2018)

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