Workforce Race Equality Standard


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, the Equality and Diversity Council and employers to ensure that the metrics and the associated guidance are clear and comprehensive and that trusts understand their duties under the WRES.

Paul Deemer, head of diversity and inclusion at NHS Employers, hopes that the WRES will, over time, lead to a step change in this area: "Those of us working in the field of diversity know how difficult it is to bring change in the area of race equality. We only have to look at the challenges that still face the police service nearly 20 years since the Macpherson Inquiry. But the one thing we know from our experiences in all areas of diversity is that change will happen quickest and most effectively where there is strong, visible and clear leadership.

"The NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard is built on and underpinned by strong, visible and clear leadership. Coupled with the Equality Delivery System, all NHS organisations now have a good, transparent governance and accountability structure to build their work in this area upon. We will continue to support NHS organisations to implement these two elements and look forward to ongoing progress."

Full details of the metric and the associated guidance and FAQs can be found on the NHS England website.

WRES 2019 Data Analysis Report for NHS Trusts

The WRES 2019 Data Analysis Report for NHS Trusts published in February 2020, 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.
Some organisations have embraced the WRES and done better than others. Although there is a long way to go, there is evidence of some sustained improvement. Understanding the data is one of the steps in helping organisations to develop evidence-based action plans, to improve on the workforce race equality agenda.

It shows that while there has been a year on year improvement in BME representation in the most senior NHS roles (including at board level) and an increase in recruitment from these backgrounds, the health service needs progress in a number of areas. Read the NHS England news article  NHS commits to long-term support for race equality to learn more.

Update on WRES data collection

NHS England and Improvement advised in April 2020, that they had suspended the Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) data collection process for 2020 due to COVID-19.

However, COVID-19 has highlighted the critical importance of workforce equality, therefore WRES implementation, including data collections, will continue as usual this year.

Organisations will need to collate their data and submit their reports between 6 July and 31 August 2020. Further details will be issued in due course by NHS England and NHS Improvement.

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

BME Leaders Network

The BME Leaders Network was set up by the NHS Confederation in March 2019. 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.

To find out more and to get involved, email Joan Saddler, director of partnerships and equality, at


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