Yvonne Coghill

"The NHS has a love/hate relationship with its black and ethnic minority staff. Bringing people in from all around the world is what we do and we do it well but how people are treated whilst they’re in the NHS is another story. 

In 2020 we have 10 executive directors of nursing from a black and ethnic minority background in the NHS. In London, there are two executive nurses from a black and ethnic minority background and two chief executives, one of whom is leaving. So we have one person of colour heading up an NHS organisation when we have thousands and thousands of people who look like me working in the NHS. 

We’re living in an institutionally racist world. Five years ago, the Workforce Race Equality Standard came into force. What it does is it looks at the difference between the experiences of white and BAME staff in the NHS.

It’s stopped people from saying ‘That’s in your imagination’ or ‘You’ve got a chip on your shoulder.’ We’ve got five years of hard evidence that if you are from a black and minority ethnic background your experiences are much worse.

We measure whether staff are more likely to be recruited into the NHS after being shortlisted, more likely to go through a disciplinary process, less likely to be sent on training, more likely to be struck off the register. What we’ve done is close the gap on those indicators. What that hasn’t done is change the culture of the NHS. We all have to think about how to make the culture better in the NHS so everybody has a better experience.”