NHS staff experiencing discrimination at work

Published

1. Main facts and figures

  • in 2018, 7% of White NHS staff in England said they had experienced discrimination at work from a manager, team leader or other colleague in the last 12 months, compared with 15% of staff from the Other ethnic group (all other ethnic groups combined)
  • in 97% of NHS trusts, a higher percentage of staff from the Other ethnic group said they had experienced discrimination at work from a colleague, compared with White staff
Things you need to know

Participation is mandatory for NHS trusts but the number of survey respondents varies between them. Caution should be used when comparing trusts where the results are based on a small number of respondents.

The NHS Staff Survey was completed by NHS staff in 230 NHS trusts. Data from 2 of the trusts was suppressed because they had fewer than 11 responses from the Other ethnic group. The results for those trusts are not included in this data.

Some trusts selected a sample of staff to take part in the survey, while others invited all their staff to respond. Where a trust selected a sample, the sample may not have been representative of all staff in that trust. Staff who completed the survey might have had different experiences at work than staff who didn’t do so.

The data only includes staff who reported their ethnic group. Staff from some ethnic groups might be less likely to report their ethnicity or reply to certain survey questions. Therefore, the results may not be representative of all staff working for NHS trusts. No adjustments have been made to the results to compensate for any possible biases.

There will be a margin of error around all the estimates presented - some of which may be large, but we do not know the sizes of these margins of error.

We have therefore not commented on differences observed in the data of a few percentage points, as they may not indicate real differences. It is possible that some of the larger differences observed in the data, including those which we have commented on, are also within the margin of error, but we’re not able to assess this.

Response rates and the number of respondents varies between trusts, and this might account for some of the differences.

What the data measures

This data is based on responses to the annual NHS staff survey.

The question about discrimination asks staff:

‘In the last 12 months have you personally experienced discrimination at work from any of the following - Manager / team leader or other colleagues?’

For this data, the number of people surveyed was too small to draw any firm conclusions about specific ethnic categories. Therefore, the data is presented for 2 broad ethnic groups: White and Other.

Data is also presented for 4 broad regions in England and 4 types of NHS trust.

The regions are:

  • London (covering Greater London)
  • Midlands (covering the West Midlands, the East Midlands and the East of England)
  • North (covering the North West, the North East, and Yorkshire and the Humber)
  • South (covering the South East and the South West)

The types of NHS trust are:

  • hospital (also known as acute)
  • ambulance
  • community provider
  • mental health

The data does not include staff working in:

  • independent (non-NHS) healthcare providers
  • social enterprises
  • arm’s length bodies
  • clinical commissioning groups (CCGs)
The ethnic categories used in this data

For this data, ethnicity is broken down into 2 broad ethnic groups:

  • White – including White British and White ethnic minorities)
  • Other – all other ethnic minorities

This is to be consistent with other Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) data. This ethnicity classification was used for all previous WRES reports, so using the same classification allows for comparisons with previous years. It also helps to increase the reliability of the data.

2. By ethnicity and area

Percentage of NHS staff experiencing discrimination at work, by ethnicity and area
Geography White Other than White
% %
England 7 15
London 8 16
Midlands 7 15
North 6 14
South 6 15

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and area’ (CSV)

Summary of NHS staff experiencing discrimination at work By ethnicity and area Summary

This data shows that:

  • in every region, staff from the Other ethnic group were at least twice as likely as White staff to say they had personally experienced discrimination at work from a colleague in the last 12 months
  • out of all regions, London had the highest percentage of staff in both ethnic groups saying they had experienced discrimination at work, at 8% for White staff and 16% for those from the Other ethnic group
  • the percentage of staff from the Other ethnic group who said they had experienced discrimination at work was lowest in the North, at 14%
  • the percentage of White staff who said they had experienced discrimination at work was lowest in the North and South, both at 6%

3. By ethnicity and type of trust

Percentage of NHS staff experiencing discrimination at work, by ethnicity and type of trust
Trust type White Other than White
% %
Acute 6 16
All 7 15
Ambulance 11 17
Community Provider Trust 5 12
Mental Health 6 14

Download table data for ‘By ethnicity and type of trust’ (CSV) Source data for ‘By ethnicity and type of trust’ (CSV)

Summary of NHS staff experiencing discrimination at work By ethnicity and type of trust Summary

The data shows that:

  • out of all types of NHS trust, community provider trusts had the lowest percentage of staff saying they had personally experienced discrimination at work from a colleague in the last 12 months, at 5% for White staff and 12% for staff from the Other ethnic group
  • ambulance trusts had the highest percentage of staff saying they had personally experienced discrimination at work, at 11% for White staff and 17% for staff from the Other ethnic group
  • a higher percentage of staff from the Other ethnic group said they had experienced discrimination at work from a colleague, compared with White staff, in 146 out of 148 acute (hospital) trusts, 9 out of 11 ambulance trusts, 52 out of 53 mental health trusts, and 16 out of 18 community provider trusts

4. Methodology

304 NHS organisations took part in the staff survey, including 230 NHS trusts. In 2 trusts, there were fewer than 11 responses from staff in the Other ethnic group, and so the results have not been included.

Staff were sent a paper questionnaire or an email containing a link to an online questionnaire. 497,117 staff completed the questionnaire between October and December 2018, an overall response rate of 46%.

There are 4 questions related to the Workforce Race Equality Standard in the staff survey.

The survey was administered by the Survey Coordination Centre on behalf of NHS England.

Suppression rules and disclosure control

Figures based on fewer than 11 responses from staff in either the White or Other ethnic group are not included.

Rounding

Percentages are given to the nearest whole number. Unrounded figures are in the download file.

Related publications

Technical guide to the 2018 staff survey data (PDF opens in a new window or tab)

5. Data sources

Source

Type of data

Survey data

Type of statistic

Official statistics

Publisher

NHS England

Publication frequency

Yearly

Purpose of data source

The purpose of the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) is to collect information on differences in the experience, progression opportunities and treatment of NHS staff based on their ethnicity, with a view to reducing these differences.

The NHS Staff Survey has been conducted every year since 2003. It asks NHS staff in England about their experiences of working for the NHS. The survey provides information to employers and stakeholders about the staff experience across the NHS in England. Participation is mandatory for NHS trusts.

6. Download the data

NHS staff experiencing discrimination at work - Spreadsheet (csv) 205 KB

Measure, Year, NHS_Trust, NHS_Trust_code, Ethnicity, Ethnicity_type, Geography, Geography_type, NHS_Trust_type, Value, Value_Type, Numerator, Denominator