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Workforce race equality standard (WRES)

The NHS equality and diversity council announced on 31 July 2014, that it had agreed action to ensure employees from black and ethnic minority (BME) backgrounds have equal access to career opportunities and receive fair treatment in the workplace.

The move follows recent reports which have highlighted disparities in the number of BME people in senior leadership positions across the NHS, as well as lower levels of wellbeing amongst the BME population.

The council pledged its commitment, subject to consultation with the NHS, to implement two measures to improve equality across the NHS, which would start in April 2015.

The first is a workforce race equality standard (WRES) that would, for the first time, require organisations employing almost all of the 1,400,000 NHS workforce to demonstrate progress against a number of indicators of workforce equality, including a specific indicator to address the low levels of BME Board representation.

Alongside the standard, the NHS will be consulted on whether the equality delivery system (EDS2) should also become mandatory. This is a toolkit, currently voluntarily used across the NHS, which aims to help organisations improve the services they provide for their local communities and provide better working environments for all groups.

The WRES Standard and the EDS2 will for the first time be included in the 2015/16 standard NHS contract. The regulators, the care quality commission (CQC), national trust development agency (NDTA) and Monitor, will use both standards to help assess whether NHS organisations are well-led.

The standards will be applicable to providers, and extended to clinical commissioning groups through the annual CCG assurance process.

WRES reports

Page last reviewed: May 20, 2024
Next review due: May 20, 2025

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