NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard

Learn about the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) and how NHS organisations can address race equality issues. Access the latest report.

7 April 2022

Since 2015 all NHS organisations have been required to demonstrate how they are addressing race equality issues in a range of staffing areas through the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES).

NHS Employers works closely with NHS England and NHS Improvement, and employers to ensure that the WRES metrics and the associated guidance are clear and comprehensive and that trusts understand their duties under the WRES.

WRES 2021 report findings 

The WRES 2021 Data Analysis Report for NHS Trusts published on 7 April 2022, highlights the experience of black and minority ethnic (BME) people working in the NHS. It provides an overview of the data on all nine WRES indicators and where possible, comparison against data from previous years.

Joan Saddler OBE, director of partnerships and equality at the NHS Confederation, said:

“The latest WRES report once again shows a disconnect when it comes to the practical application of our NHS commitment towards ensuring workforce race equality. The gulf between the rhetoric of NHS leaders and the reality of services in racialised communities and the lived experiences of our staff from those communities is fueling disillusion.

"We welcome progress in some senior appointments at board level and the NHS Confederation will continue partnering with NHSEI to increase progress on model employer targets applicable to staff at all levels.

“Sadly, this year’s data again shows BME staff are still underrepresented at all levels, especially on boards, and the levels of bullying and abuse directed at BME staff remains stubbornly high from both patients and other staff. This is totally unacceptable and cannot continue to be the lived experience of NHS staff in the 21st century.

“NHS staff have been our lifeline throughout the pandemic and have worked tirelessly for the last two years, yet we know their heroic efforts have really taken their toll, particularly on BME staff.

“This report is honest in highlighting the systemic barriers to achieving race equality that still exist across the NHS. Concerted action rather than warm words is needed and if these numbers remain static or worse still decline it is BME staff who will continue to bear the brunt of inaction.

"We also agree that there is much more to do and would urge NHSEI to now publish the race equality strategy for the health service with more focus on changing the power relationships that determine the distribution of NHS jobs services and resources."

WRES 2021 report findings 

Our improving race equality infographic details the key stats from the 2020 WRES report, along with race equality challenges in the NHS. It also provides actions organisations and individuals can take to improve equality within their own organisation.

If you have any queries, or require any clarification please contact the WRES team at

BME Leadership Network

The BME Leaders Network was set up by the NHS Confederation in March 2019. The network exists to strengthen the voice of black and minority ethnic (BME) leaders in England and to support health and care organisations to meet the needs of all communities. It meets quarterly and seeks to:

  • Improve understanding of equality, diversity and inclusion and publish the benefits to help deliver better care for all.
  • Improve and sustain the number of BME leaders working in the NHS.
  • Profile the diverse range of BME leaders delivering solutions across the health and care system.

Learn more about the BME Leadership Network and how to join.

NHS Race and Health Observatory

The NHS Race and Health Observatory are an independent expert body, established by the NHS to examine the health inequalities experienced by Black and minority ethnic communities in England. They work as a proactive investigator by actioning and insight, providing evidence-based health policy recommendations, and facilitating long-term transformational change across health and care.

They are supported by NHS England and hosted by NHS Confederation and can be contact on