The Project

WRES Indicator 4

Improving access to training and development for BME staff
North East London NHS Foundation Trust


This case study examines how North East London NHS Foundation Trust (NELFT) addressed issues around the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES). The WRES focusses on nine indicators comparing the experiences of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) staff with those of White staff: for more detail on this, see the WRES web site. This is one of several case studies on this site relating to the WRES: click here for links to the others.


WRES objective being addressed

WRES Indicator 4: Relative likelihood of white staff accessing non–mandatory training and continuous professional development (CPD) compared to BME staff


What they did


The aims of the WRES initiative were:

  • BME staff are provided with opportunities for professional training, secondments and shadowing for career developments.
  • Under representation of the uptake of professional training by BME staff are being addressed at all levels.
  • Processes are in place for tracking the career progression of BME staff

It was important firstly to look at the data and there was no surprise at we realised that training and development did not have a systematic way of recording who was applying and who was accepted.

The first step was to develop a system for recording. The application form that staff were required to fill in, was amended to record diversity information, e.g. race, disability, gender.

Secondly, the CPD panel membership was reviewed to ensure an EMN representative. In addition to this, the following steps were undertaken;

  • The application form was amended to record the reasons why the applicant was not successful.
  • When we met with the EMN network, we explored some of the reasons why BME staff were not accessing CPD training, and it became obvious that they were not always aware of the training opportunities, and secondly, what the process was.
  • Through the EMN network database, we would share all training that was made available including the Leadership Academy training for BME staff.
  • The EMN ambassadors and champions offered support to BME staff to complete their applications and to explore how this was going to benefit them in the long run.
  • Staff members were offered support via mentoring or coaching throughout the time that they are engaged in the training programme. They were supported with the various projects / audits or research that BME staff would undertake as part of the training. This process is ongoing and embedded in the EMN strategy.
  • Quarterly monitoring process of BME staff who had applied for CPD monitoring via the EMN ambassadors steering group.
  • Support for BME whose application forms were not successful to ensure that the process was fair and transparent. And how they could be supported when they next applied.
  • Raising awareness of the benefits of access to training on retention and progression internally. (The trust currently has 27% from BME groups at bands 8 and above compared to 18% in 2013).
  • Identify these staff through PDP and appraisal process. Any CPD training was included as part of their appraisal and monitored via training and development. The link to this training was directly inputted into an ATL (learning system). This allowed the training need for the EMN member to be addressed during the 1 to 1 session with their managers.
  • Set a target for BME staff to access programmes such as the Ready Now, Stepping Up, Mary Seacole, of having at least five EMN colleagues from NELFT attending these sessions.


What was the outcome?

Although nationally it is still relatively more likely for white staff to access non-mandatory and CPD training, NELFT is now unique in that BME staff are more likely to access CPD training when compared to the overall trust BME profile. A number of BME staff have had access to NHS Leadership Academy training which is specially for BME staff. This indicator has improved year-on-year.

The percentage of EMN staff who access CPD training is 49%, compared to the overall BME staff profile which is 38%.

77% of BME staff believes that the trust provides equal opportunities for career progression. In contrast, 89% of white staff reported the trust provides equal opportunities, which is an increased from 86% in 2017. The percentage for NHS trusts in England for BME staff is 72%.


Challenges & barriers


  • Recording systems was not consistent and information on diversity of staff was not recorded.
  • Staff were questioning how fair and transparent the process was.
  • When a CPD application is declined, staff were not given feedback on their applications.
  • Managers refusing their applications if not agreed as part of their appraisal or developmental plan.
  • Lack of awareness of the process to apply and what courses were available.

Enablers and supportive partnership

  • Accountability: monitoring of action on the EMN strategy at board level.
  • Leadership: support from CEO, board and integrated care directorates.
  • Data: regular monitoring of data on a quarterly basis.
  • Communication: through EMN, generic email, attendance of ambassadors and EDI leads at senior leadership teams and local leadership forums, and in weekly news round.
  • Resources: volunteer EMN ambassadors and champions with clear job descriptions, role commitment and time released for activities, links with NHS Leadership Academy.
  • Celebrating success: weekly newsletter, NELFT awards, EMN general meetings, national awards.
  • Clear governance structures for the network and the EMN strategy.


What can other organisations learn from this?

  • Leadership is crucial; our leadership for the EMN strategy sits with our chief executive.
  • Accountability is vital. The trust has governance structures in place on report on progress and where there are challenges to progress.
  • Work in partnership with the lead for training and development.
  • Have a clear action plan that is SMART
  • Trends data; present this over the years, to really show impact.
  • Empowerment of EMN staff to take ownership of their own development – is the first hurdle to get out of the way!

Further Reading

Full version of this case study
NHS England web site

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