Empowering us to make equality improvements

Ruth Dolby

Ruth Dolby is organisational development practitioner and lead for inclusion, equality and diversity at Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust. In this blog she shares her experience of being part of the NHS Employers partners programme 2018-19 and the impact of the programme on policy and practice within her organisation.

As a large acute trust with a diverse workforce, we were thrilled to secure a place on the partners programme in June 2018. It was important for us to become a partner, as progressing and developing our equality performance for staff and patients is a key priority for the organisation. However, we needed guidance and support to work towards our vision of creating an inclusive compassionate culture. The programme has empowered us to make significant progress in our equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) journey and we are proud of what we have achieved.

Key achievements

  • Revised the equality impact group, now known as the equality diversity inclusion (EDI) group, which has a new reporting schedule that requires divisions to annually report on their EDI progress.
  • Established an LGBT+ equality staff forum to discuss issues affecting LGBT+ staff. The forum also provides a place for staff to raise concerns.
  • Established a black asian minority ethnic (BAME) staff network which provides this group with a recognised voice.
  • Held a successful Equality and Diversity System 2 (EDS2) workshop with key stakeholders to establish the trust's new equality objectives.
  • Developed and implemented a training session on EDI and unconscious bias which is mandatory for all new managers and is being rolled out to hot spot areas throughout the trust.
  • Gained BAME representation on the trust board in the form of a newly appointed associate non-executive director.
  • Taken positive action with the implementation of a leadership development programme for BAME staff called ‘Beyond Boundaries’. The first cohort has 24 enrolments.
  • Held a joint patient and staff celebrating diversity day in October 2018 with 200+ attendees.
  • In collaboration with Solent NHS Trust, we took an active part in Portsmouth Pride September 2018 with staff and trust board volunteers marching and manning a ‘Proud to be NHS’ stand.
  • Seen improvements in all four Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) measures taken from the 2018 national staff survey results.

We are pleased that the learning from this programme has enabled us to develop a strategic EDI improvement plan, in collaboration with the EDI group and staff networks which will shape staff and patient work streams in the organisation. The plan includes a number of outcomes with key actions which will help us to meet our overarching equality objectives that were established with stakeholders.



Inclusive leadership

The importance of inclusive and compassionate leadership has been a theme running throughout the programme and has strengthened our resolve in attaining this goal. Lessons learned have influenced our culture change programme, the bi-annual leadership summit which has inclusive leadership as the topic planned for October 2019, as well as the efforts we are putting into developing, implementing and supporting minority staff groups.

Building strong relationships

This programme has given us fantastic opportunities to network with local NHS organisations we otherwise may never have worked with. We have also built strong working relationships with other trusts closer to our region, specifically Solent NHS Trust, The Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals and Yeovil District Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. We are looking forward to developing our working relationships even further.

We are delighted that we have been successful in securing a place for a second year  on the programme, where we will continue our EDI journey with vigour. This is another fantastic opportunity to be part of this inclusion movement and to have the support, skills and inspirational direction from NHS Employers.

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