Unite launches initiative to end race inequality in th...

Unite launches initiative to end race inequality in the NHS at ‘Beyond Snowy White Peaks’ conference in London

13 July 2015

Unite, Britain’s biggest union, will launch an initiative to tackle racism in the NHS at the ‘Beyond Snowy White Peaks’ conference in London on Tuesday 14 July, as nearly 30 per cent of its Black Asian and Ethnic Minority (BAEM) members report racial harassment at work as an issue.

WHEN: 10:30-16:00, Tuesday 14 July 2015
WHERE: Faraday House, 48 Gloucester Street London, WC1N 3AE 

Speaking ahead of the ‘Beyond Snowy White Peaks’ conference, Unite lead professional officer, Obi Amadi, said: “Tackling racism in the NHS is a top priority for Unite and will be at the forefront of the union’s industrial agenda.” 

Speakers will include, Unite assistant general secretary Diana Holland and Roger Kline, researcher and author of The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS, a report, published in 2014, which showed that race inequality in the NHS has got worse, not better, since 2009.

 A recent survey of the union’s (BAEM) health members revealed that the top three issues affecting them were:

  • Lack of promotion and progression for BAEM workers 31.7%
  • Racial bullying and Harassment in the workplace 28.5%
  • Race Discrimination in job market 20%

Unite’s initiative comes as the NHS launches the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) which requires all, but the very smallest NHS employing organisations, to publish information on the progress made to ensure BAEM workers have equal access to career opportunities and fair treatment in the workplace.

Unite national officer, Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe, said: “Our BAEM health members are still saying the biggest issue at work is lack of promotion and progression for BAEM members, followed by racial harassment and bullying. Unfortunately, race inequality has gone backwards in the NHS. The WRES has put this issue firmly back on the agenda and Unite will be at forefront of promoting equality in the workplace and ending discrimination in the NHS.

Unite will ensure that ending race inequality is top of our industrial agenda for our 100,000 health members.  We will work to equip our health workplace representatives and officials to ensure that NHS employers are following the WRES guidelines and have plans and targets to close the race equality gaps in many NHS workplaces.”

Recent reports have shown that BAEM NHS staff are almost twice as likely to be disciplined as white employees, and that discrimination in the workplace directly impacts on patient safety.

Roger Kline and Diana Holland will be joined by Yvonne Coghill, NHS England and Wilf Sullivan, TUC.


Media are invited to attend. For further information please contact, Unite national officer Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe on 07771 656 692 and/or the Unite campaigns officer Chantal Chegrinec on 07774 146 777

Twitter: @unitetheunion Facebook: unitetheunion1

Notes to editors:

Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest trade union with over 1.4 million members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.

  • Roger Kline’s 2014 survey of discrimination in governance and leadership and the potential impact on patient care in London and England revealed shocking disparities in the number of BAEM people in senior leadership positions.
  • the proportion of BAEM senior and very senior managers  in England has decreased from 6.4 per cent in 2010 to 5.9 per cent in 2013
  • The proportion of BAEM Trust board appointments in England fell from 8.5 per cent  in 2010 to 5.8 per cent in 2013
  • In London, Trust Board BAEM executive membership fell from 9.6 per cent in 2006 to 7.4 per cent in 2014
  • BAEM nurses have to work longer to reach higher of management than white nurses – 15.1 years compared to 11.8 years
Unite has over 100,000 members in the NHS in all NHS occupations and professions including ambulance staff, applied psychologists, art therapists, community nursery nurses, counsellors & psychotherapists, dental professionals, doctors, estates & maintenance, healthcare chaplains, health visitors, Hospital physicists, mental health nurses, pharmacists, scientists, school nurses, sexual health advisors and speech and language therapists.