asked Her Majesty's Government:
Whether consideration has been given to measures to encourage the recruitment of black and minority ethnic executive directors to acute National Health Service trusts in Birmingham, in view of the fact that none of the 50 listed in the most recent annual reports is from such a background.[HL6987]
It is recognised that black and minority ethnic (BME) people remain under-represented in senior management. The Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 places a positive duty on public bodies, including the National Health Service, to promote race equality. It is therefore essential that steps are taken to ensure that NHS staffing is representative of the community it serves.
NHS Employers has issued guidance to encourage the NHS to use the current opportunity of reorganisation to address this imbalance. The guidance includes a checklist designed to outline the recommended action that NHS employers should take to ensure that there is no direct or indirect discrimination against any particular individual or group through organisational change.
In addition, several programmes of work underpin this Government's commitment to equality in employment in the NHS. The Positive Action project gives NHS organisations tools and good practice examples of how to redress workforce under-representation; the national NHS Black and Minority Ethnic Leadership Forum ensures a stronger voice for BME leaders in the NHS; and the Breaking Through programme aims to support the progression of BME staff into senior leadership roles. In addition, the 10-point leadership and race equality action plan, which was launched in February 2004, challenges all NHS leaders to systematically address race equality with respect to both patient care and staff.
Priorities for the National Health Service are set out in National Standards, Local Action: Health and Social Care Standards and Planning Framework 2005/06-2007/08, which can be found on the Department of Health website at http://www.dh.gov.uk. These include details of healthcare standards, existing commitments and new national targets. All National Health Service organisations are expected to meet these priorities and to achieve financial balance.
The Department of Health has more than halved the number of national targets from 62 in 2002-03, to 44 in 2003-04 to 2005-06, and to 20 from 2005-06 to 2007/08, so the NHS can focus on the biggest priorities, leaving it free to manage other services as it sees fit.
The department also has external gateway controls in place to ensure that no additional centrally created targets are imposed outwith those contained within National Standards, Local Action or European Union legislation. Delivery of other commitments is a matter for local determination, and local organisations and communities will set their own timescales and milestones for delivery.