Developing a benchmarking process


18 / 04 / 2009

Strategic Health Authority

NHS North West (North West SHA)

The organisation

Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust is one of the largest and busiest hospital trusts in the north of England. It has an annual budget of over £300 million, more than 5,000 staff and almost one million patients every year. It provides general hospital services and emergency care including medical, surgical, diagnostic, rehabilitation and therapy services.

What we did and why

The trust monitors its workforce to track data on gender, ethnic origin, age, disability and working patterns. Work is also under way on monitoring sexual orientation and religion/belief.

Data, which is stored confidentially, is collected for new starters through the equal opportunities monitoring form on NHS Jobs and through a self survey for current staff.

This information helps the trust to monitor employment policies, practices and procedures to ensure that they are fair and do not discriminate against any group of employees.

The trust is building on this work by introducing a monitoring dataset that exceeds minimum compliance requirements under race, gender and disability. Based on the Department of Health's Vital Connection model of good practice, it has been enhanced to include all equality target groups. 

Alongside this, the trust has also requested benchmarking information on workforce profiles and targets from other trusts/organisations, as well as gathering information on the local demography of Liverpool.

The trust now has in place an agreed benchmarking process, developed collaboratively, that enables participating members to audit themselves, compare results, discover best practices and identify ways of enhancing diversity.

The benchmarking exercise has enabled the organisation to make informed decisions around setting workforce diversity improvement targets and adopting appropriate HR practice on diversity.

How we did it

The trust wanted to set aspirational targets around the workforce profile in terms of ethnicity, gender, disability, lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, and religion or belief. To do this, the trust agreed to benchmark itself against a cross section of large local employers  including other NHS trusts, local education colleges, Liverpool Council and Sefton Council.

These organisations were asked for the data outlined below. The trust used the information to do a comparative exercise, set targets and identify particular problems around data collection and benchmarking.





 Benchmarking data % comparators        

 Royal Liverpool trust

 Liverpool Community College

City council

 Sefton Council

Public health


 BME  12.26  6.8  1.8  6
 Disabled  0.93  6.4  6.4  2.39  
 Christian  22.22  /  /  /  79.5
 LGBT  0.31  /  /  /
Male 26.89 / / / /

Results and next steps

  • The data showed that the overall representation of BME in the trust was good compared to other organisations, but this was not reflected at all levels and all occupational groups
  • The trust recognised that its lack of disability status data was the lowest in comparison to others - this is new data that is being collected and the trust needs to increase disclosure from 40 per cent of staff
  • The trust was the only NHS organisation to monitor sexual orientation
  • The trust recognised the difficulty and risk in setting meaningful long term improvement targets across all equality strands without having a baseline of full data 

Using the comparator data, the trust is proposing the following targets as part of its single equality and human rights scheme, increasing:  

  • Chinese staff to 2.46 per cent
  • mixed ethnic background to 1.8 per cent
  • disabled staff to 5 per cent
  • LGBT staff to 2 per cent
  • age groups 16-20, 20-25 and over 65s to 5  per cent each
  • BME staff employed in band 8 and above by 2 per cent
  • minimum targets on new recruitment into the trust overall of 6 per cent BME, 48  per cent male, 2 per cent LGBT and 20 per cent non-Christian

The trust is continuing to work towards having robust and clear data to measure its progress, and provide transparency, and will develop positive action initiatives to meet its targets.

The trust will continue to benchmark itself against the changing demographics of the population it serves and against other organisations. It also plans to participate in the Stonewall benchmarking exercise as well as the Employers Forum on Disability benchmarking exercise.

Contact details

Andrea Derbyshire, equality and diversity manager, Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals NHS Trust

Telephone: 0151 706 3327

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