Keri McWilliams - Texthelp

Are you supporting diversity in the NHS?

Keri takes us through diversity within the NHS. Thanks Keri. 

Equality, diversity and inclusion are essential components of the NHS.

As the largest employer in Europe, it is estimated that the NHS has a 1.4 million strong workforce, treating 1 million patients every 36 hours.

In this naturally varied environment, it is essential to embrace, take advantage and learn how to support diversity, to meet the needs for everyone.

A diverse NHS

Within the NHS workforce:
  • one in eight employees has a disability
  • 11 per cent of employees are from a non-British background
  • 30 per cent of doctors and 40 per cent of nurses have English as their second language
  • 57 per cent of GPs are aged 45 or over

And with patients:
  • 11 million people are estimated to have a limiting long-term illness, impairment or disability
  • 1.5 million people have a learning disability
  • one in four children born today will live to the age of 100
This is a substantial amount of diversity, within one organisation.

Diversity can bring many advantages to an organisation - including fostering new ways of thinking, and reaching out to wider audiences.

For the NHS, different views, perspectives and ideas can strengthen performance within the workforce.

Embracing diversity can also provide services that are more relevant, accessible and inclusive to those needing health care.

Achieving an equal, diverse NHS

NHS England are already one step ahead by implementing the Equality Delivery System (EDS). Their four EDS goals are:
  • better health outcomes
  • improved patient access and experience
  • a representative and supportive workforce
  • inclusive leadership

Ultimately, this delivery system will help local NHS organisations to improve services for communities, provide better working environments for those who work in the NHS, while meeting the requirements of the Equality Act 2010.

From April 2015, EDS2 (a refreshed EDS) is included in the standard NHS contract for all NHS providers.

To attain higher levels of continuous equality improvement for all patients and the workforce, EDS2 should be implemented consistently across all NHS organisations.

There is still considerable evidence that some patients and communities may feel they are not as well served by the NHS as they should be. For example, information that organisations make available to patients and communities may not be accessible to everyone.


Make your services more accessible by integrating assistive technology into your work practices.

For example, language support software can help NHS staff to break down barriers between both colleagues and patients, and improve record keeping accuracy and productivity -  resulting in a happier, more productive workforce.

You can also make your portal and online services more accessible to your patients. The recent ‘Accessible Information Standard’ will guide you through changes that need to be made to your communication channels.

By adopting these new practices, you can increase comprehension and understanding for your staff and patients by at least 20 per cent.

We have produced a short video highlighting how assistive technology can address some of the inequalities - take a look.

If you have any thoughts on diversity in the NHS, we’d love to hear them in the comments below.


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