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Header image for the current page Delivering a leadership programme for black and minority ethnic staff to improve career opportunities at Newcastle Hospitals

Delivering a leadership programme for black and minority ethnic staff to improve career opportunities at Newcastle Hospitals

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As part of our focus on helping NHS providers improve workforce equality, we worked in partnership with Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to deliver bespoke leadership training for black and minority ethnic staff, including hospital consultants, administrators, midwives and allied health professionals.

The training has seen participants develop change, project management and team leadership skills, resulting in improved confidence, morale and new career opportunities.

The challenge

NHS providers are expected to show progress in workforce equality as part of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES). The NHS WRES 2022 data analysis report for NHS trusts shows that while 24.2% of staff working in the NHS are from a black and minority ethnic (BME) background, BME staff remain underrepresented in senior positions including board members. NHS workforce data also shows that the percentage of non-medical NHS staff from the white ethnic group becomes higher as grades become more senior.

This discrepancy in senior positions demonstrates the need to do more to ensure equality of access to opportunity and to enable the NHS to benefit from a broader range of skills and expertise.

Arden & GEM's Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) team recognise that to truly breakdown barriers to career progression, a dual approach is needed, with a shared emphasis on trainees and employers to address the skills gap and rapidly create opportunities to apply new skills.

Our approach

Our team developed a tailored black and minority ethnic leadership programme and worked with Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust to pilot the initiative with two groups of 25 employees.

We began by developing a detailed understanding of the blockers that were preventing ambitious NHS employees from black and minority ethnic backgrounds from progressing in their careers. These include fewer opportunities to gain relevant training and experience, as well as reduced access to peer networks and role models. These issues can prevent employees from diverse backgrounds from applying for leadership positions and/or limit their success in securing new opportunities.

Core components
The leadership programme is based on a combination of the NHS Leadership Academy’s Healthcare Leadership Model and draws on the key pillars of the NHS Leadership Framework. We pair this with specific modules and techniques to plug the gaps affecting BME employees including political awareness, project management and people management skills.

In addition, three essential elements were built in to maximise the potential impact of the training, both for individual participants and the Trust as a whole:

The training course included twelve half-day workshops over a six-month period. The tailored programme covered essential elements of effective leadership, including different styles of leadership, change management, leading diverse teams, managing performance, presenting with impact, and managing yourself and your talent.

The outcomes

The pilot programme has already resulted in several participants gaining promotions, as well as helping the Trust to fill gaps in their team.

Feedback from participants has been extremely positive, with 89% saying they would not have had access to leadership development as quickly without this bespoke offering. The peer networks are continuing and participants have reported improvements in confidence, skills and career potential.

Comments include:

“I see it as a vote of confidence in me that I am someone the hospital sees could hold further leadership positions in the future.”

“It sends a message that the trust is fulfilling its responsibilities towards BME employees which will ultimately help reducing the health inequalities at work.”

“It provided me with access to leadership development faster than it would have done ordinarily.”

By investing in developing its own employees, the Trust has retained black and minority ethnic staff, giving them the confidence to not only put themselves forward for new roles but also demonstrate key skills. This has improved morale and provided BME staff with better access to career progression. Moreover, the Trust has seen several small-scale change projects progress as part of the training process, leading to improvements in internal processes and enhanced patient care.

This project won a Nursing Times Workforce Award and was shortlisted for an HSJ Award in 2022.

"We set out to design a programme that would provide support and leadership development for staff who would benefit from developing their skills further with the aim of creating a fair and equitable high-performance culture. Feedback from the programme has been overwhelmingly positive with several participants successfully achieving promotions following completion."

Karen Pearce, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at Newcastle upon Tyne Hospitals