6 August 2020

The RCSLT has given a cautious welcome to the wording of a letter from NHS England Chief Executive Sir Simon Stevens to NHS leaders in England. While mostly focussed on the next phase of response to COVID-19, the letter contains the following in respect of black, Asian and minority ethnic representation.

Strengthen leadership and accountability, with a named executive Board member responsible for tackling inequalities in place in September in every NHS organisation. Each NHS board to publish an action plan showing how over the next five years its board and senior staffing will in percentage terms at least match the overall BAME composition of its overall workforce, or its local community, whichever is the higher.•

Restore NHS services inclusively, so that they are used by those in greatest need. This will be guided by new, core performance monitoring of service use and outcomes among those from the most deprived neighbourhoods and from Black and Asian communities, by 31 October.

Ensure datasets are complete and timely, to underpin an understanding of and response to inequalities. All NHS organisations should proactively review and ensure the completeness of patient ethnicity data by no later 31 December, with general practice prioritising those groups at significant risk of Covid19 from 1 September.

The RCSLT sees this as a potentially helpful lever for change, and urges speech and language therapists to engage with the process in their organisation. If you would like support with this work then please contact info@rcslt.org.