February 14 2019
As expected, the first calls I got today, were from well-meaning folk wanting to share with me that the word on the street was that the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) wasn’t working; thanks, I needed that! The WRES 2019 Data Report for NHS trusts was published on 13 February and to be honest, the news wasn’t overwhelmingly positive in all areas.
So, let me explain what the WRES is.
The WRES was developed in 2015, and if you read the literature it makes it clear that the WRES is an initiative by which we compare the experiences between white staff and black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in the NHS. This is done by using 9 indicators.
Nowhere in the documentation does it say, that the WRESimplementation team are responsible for changing the culture of organisations in the NHS to make them more equitable for everyone, and to do that within 5 years; and in all honestly, I don’t believe that anyone thinks the WRES was designed to do that.
Understanding race equality and how it manifests itself is key to understanding why the WRES is actually working. The WRES is raising awareness of race inequality in our NHS. Let’s face it, race is one of the most difficult and complex issues of our time. People being judged, classified and treated differently based on the amount of melanin they have in their skin is an age-old and quite frankly horrible problem. The issue is a global one and has been in the making for over 400 years. Systems across the world have been developed with this in mind, and the same phenomena that we see in the UK is also evident in the US, Canada, Australia and Europe. People of colour have a worse experience across the board than their white counterparts. This is distressing and shocking for some but it’s the lived experience of many others. Thisimage below highlights an issue faced by black women in this country. There is a mountain of data that shows that in health, wealth, education and the judiciary, people of colour,experience poorer treatment and often poorer outcomes for them and their families.