NHS Employers equality partners programme helps Morecambe Bay on the journey towards inclusion


Karmini McCann takes time to reflect on how the NHS Employers equality partners programme has helped University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust on their journey towards inclusion. 

The Power of Commitment

We were extremely privileged to be accepted onto the NHS Employers equality partners programme in early 2015.  At that point we had trust board commitment and a new leadership structure in place behind the initial stages of an inclusion improvement programme. We had (and still have) a massive amount of work to do to become a truly inclusive employer and service provider. Learning from organisations across the NHS and in the world outside has been essential to our journey #TowardsInclusion.

Some of the things we have learned...

The Power of Sharing

Throughout the programme it has been fantastic to learn from expert speakers, organisations leading the way regarding diversity and inclusion and other partners, sharing their progress, their learning and how they are tackling the realities of disproportionate experience for particular groups. The experiences of other organisations have absolutely shaped our approach.

The Power of Learning

One of our key learning points has been the importance of talking about diversity and inclusion at all levels.  We have taken learning to our teams through professional away days, bespoke training for Personal Fair Diverse Champions, unconscious bias training and the use of personal stories.  Inspired by the team from University Hospitals of Southampton NHS Foundation Trust, we held our first #TowardsInclusion Conference for staff in November 2015 with the theme of race equality.  #TowardsInclusion 2 is being planned in partnership with our BME, LGBT and disability staff networks and we already have some amazing speakers lined up. Feel free to contact me if you would like to get involved.

The Power of Building Relationships

A clear message, early in the programme, was about the importance of engagement with stakeholders and building relationships.  This is where we have focussed our attention over the last 12 months. To really understand the needs of our communities and to inform our improvement programme, we have held a series of engagement events with members of the public, and expanded our equality of access to health group. We have fed back on our progress and are developing long term partnerships with groups and individuals in our local community. 

We have listened to the experiences of staff. We have developed a new way of working with our local branch of BAPIO (British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin), and now have three staff led inclusion networks for BME staff, LGBT staff and staff with a disability. We have over 100 Personal Fair Diverse Champions, with two network leads who have dedicated time to help support, develop and enable this group to make a difference to employee and patient experience at UHMBT.

Our trust board have made a formal agreement with BAPIO nationally to help us, amongst other things, develop our long term inclusion strategy, tackle areas where employee experience is disproportionate for different groups and develop bespoke training packages. 

The Power of Systems

Through the programme we have learned how we can utilise NHS systems to improve inclusive practice.  Hearing different perspectives on the Equality Delivery System (EDS2) and Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES), has helped us shape how we can use these performance systems as a means to drive improvements in employee and patient experience. 

Meaningful application for us has been absolute honesty about our current position, using our current data to drive conversation and understanding and developing action plans for improvement in partnership with different groups. At UHMBT the WRES approach has had such a positive impact in the way we work with BME staff we have already mirrored the approach for LGBT staff and are working on the same for disability ahead of the proposed national disability workforce standard.

The Power of Inclusive Leadership

We have heard from a number of organisations about inclusive leadership in practice and approaches that have been taken to develop the capacity and capability of leaders in the NHS and private sector. As an equality partner we have been part of some ground breaking research by ENEI into inclusive leadership, (another bonus of being a partner has been access throughout the programme to ENEI resources).  We have started to explore how we can develop inclusive leadership at all levels, with a recent trust management board session aimed at developing inclusive behaviours across people management processes such as appraisal.

The Power of #TeamInclusion

At the final workshop leads from Disability Rights UK, the LGBT Foundation and the Race Equality Foundation gave a very powerful message about our key challenges ahead.  We recognise that we have a long way to go on our journey #TowardsInclusion but through the support and learning from the NHS Employers Equality Partners Programme our trust has made progress in the last 12 months.

Locally, we have taken a #TeamUHMBT approach, with staff at all levels across our organisation getting involved, speaking out, and becoming champions for inclusive practice.  It genuinely feels that we are part of a wider movement of change #TowardsInclusion across the NHS.

So, a massive thank you to the NHS Employers team, our equality partner 2015/16 colleagues and everyone who has been involved as speakers and workshop leads – bring on the Alumni Programme!  

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