Implementing the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) is a requirement for NHS commissioners and NHS healthcare providers including independent organisations, through the NHS standard contract.
The NHS Equality and Diversity Council announced on 31 July 2014 that it had agreed action to ensure employees from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace.
This is important because studies show that a motivated, included and valued workforce helps deliver high quality patient care, increased patient satisfaction and better patient safety.
In April 2015, after engaging and consulting with key stakeholders including other NHS organisations across England, the WRES was mandated through the NHS standard contract, starting in 2015/16. From 2017, independent healthcare providers are required to publish their WRES data.
The first WRES report, was published in June 2016, followed by the 2016 WRES report on 19 April 2017. In the first two years, there have been improvements in some trusts, although a number of organisations still have a long way to go. The 2017 WRES report shows a trend of continued improvement in a number of areas, but there is still much work to do in some trusts, sectors and parts of the NHS.
NHS providers are expected to show progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to address the low numbers of BME board members across the organisation.
The first phase of the WRES focused on supporting the system to understand the nature of the challenge of workforce race equality and for leaders to recognise that it was their responsibility to help make the necessary changes.