A lack of qualified nurses, doctors and paramedics is the biggest challenge for the black community in the NHS, a report has found.
Black nurses, health workers and paramedics are the least likely to have a career in the health service and are also disproportionately affected by rising house prices, according to the Health Care Professionals Council (HCPC).
The report found that the proportion of black nurses and health workers has dropped by half in the past 20 years, and more than half are in nursing or social care.
Black people account for just 6 per cent of the total population, but account for 42 per cent in nursing and 39 per cent are in social care, compared to 24 per cent for white people, according the HCPC.
There were also significant barriers for the Black Health Professionals Network (BHPN), which provides guidance to black nurses, compared with their white counterparts.
It said that black women were more likely to be in work and less likely to hold a job than white women.
The report also said that Black people were more than three times more likely than white people to have experienced racism in their lifetime.
“Many have experienced discrimination, and a lack of access to jobs and training,” said Helen Gwynne, executive director of the HCpc.
“In some cases, discrimination is based on race, and some people have not been paid for their work.
In other cases, it is based purely on colour.”
There are many barriers to achieving the profession, such as low pay, lack of qualifications, low motivation and poor communication, the report said.
The HCPC also highlighted the growing trend of employers choosing to hire and promote people from ethnic minority groups rather than white or white-dominated occupations.
“There is a worrying trend of hiring and promoting people from the ethnic minority communities,” said Ms Gwynnes.
“It is a situation where people from Black and minority ethnic backgrounds are not getting the opportunities that white people have in the workforce.”
The report highlighted a number of initiatives to help address the challenges facing black and minority ethnicity workers.
It also called for a more holistic approach to training for the health profession, including a shift from the teaching of general nursing to a more specialized approach in the nursing profession.
The health profession needs to work with other communities and other groups to ensure that everyone has a fair chance to progress, Ms Gynnes said.
“We need to do more to make sure that we don’t have a negative impact on the profession.”
The HCpc’s report is based largely on research into the health professions, which the organisation said was “comprising more than 4,000 years of research”.
In a statement, the HCpcs said it was the first national study to assess the current profession and the issues it faces.
The survey included interviews with nurses, social workers, doctors, midwives, and pharmacists.
“Nurses are the most disadvantaged group in our profession,” said Dr Helen Pritchard, executive officer of the health professionals council.
“A lack of a career is the main obstacle for them and it is not a problem that has changed over time.”
We are all working hard to improve the quality of our health service for all people, including our most vulnerable members, and there is a great opportunity for Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) people in the profession to contribute in that way.
“In 2017, the number of Black and Māori people in employment in the public sector hit a record high of 5.1 per cent.
This included almost 10,000 Black people in frontline roles, and 5,000 of them in the workplace.
In 2020, Black and Indigenous people made up 13.4 per cent, with more than 6,300 in frontline jobs.
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