The South East Coast Black & Minority Ethnic (BME) Network was launched in June 2007 with sponsorship from the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority (SHA), Sussex Partnership NHS Trust and the trade union Managers in Partnership.

The perception within the South East Coast BME Network is that NHS organisations in the region are failing to deliver on their statutory duties under the Race Relations (Amendment Act) 2000 and the impending Equalities and Human Rights legislative provisions.

To investigate this further the Executive Committee for the South East Coast BME Network decided to undertake a review of the delivery of race equality by all NHS Trusts, PCTs and the SHA in the NHS South East Coast region. This report provides compelling “baseline” information, which demonstrates there are a number of significant shortfalls, which are preventing NHS organisations in the region from delivering fully on their Race Equality Duty. However, there are a few NHS organisations where it is possible to demonstrate there is some good practice in
place and this has been recognised in the report.

The Government set out in the NHS Plan a radical agenda for the modernisation of the NHS, which includes responding to population health needs, reducing health inequalities and valuing diversity amongst service users and its workforce.

As the largest provider of public services and the largest employer in the UK, the NHS has huge potential to bring about race equality, harmonious race relations and greater social justice. However, this will not happen unless race equality is embedded in the culture of the organisation such that it influences all its actions including how it delivers its services, plans new activities and how the people involved in it relate to each other.

To change the culture of our organisations means changing the way people think and this will not happen unless we have leadership, sustained commitment and adequate resources. We cannot perceive this present position as acceptable or tolerable and therefore the challenge that remains will be how we intend to change the status quo.

The time has come for Chief Executives and other senior leaders to publicly commit themselves to a continuous programme of action and personal effort which will lead to the eradication of racism in NHS organisations in the NHS South East Coast region. I hope this review and the recommendations arising from it will be a catalyst for such action.

I believe that the South East Coast BME Network has a pivotal role to play, including challenging organisational practices and procedures, to ensure we deliver race equality for BME staff, BME patients and BME clients.

Consequently, progress on the delivery of this important agenda will be continuously monitored by the South East Coast BME Network Executive Committee and another review is scheduled to take place at the end of this year.

Dr Vivienne Lyfar-Cissé
Chair, South East Coast BME Network

Leadership is choosing to engage the pain of standing in criticism of the things you hold most dear,your culture currently values and society thinks important!

Professor Kurt April (2005)


Click here to download the full report.