Attracting, supporting and retaining a diverse NHS workforce

We are working with NHS Employers to explore issues around equality, diversity and inclusion in the workforce.


Published: 12/05/2021

Project status: Ongoing

The project

The NHS in England employs some 1.5 million people. However, there is broad recognition of the scope to make the NHS a more inclusive, diverse and equitable workforce. We are therefore exploring what could be done to ensure that NHS trusts attract, recruit and retain staff who represent the local communities that they serve.

What we are planning to do

Our approach includes a review of literature, interviews with NHS trusts, scoping calls with national stakeholders and analysis of NHS staff survey and other data on the topic.

We are looking, where possible, across the range of protected characteristics, as well as other demographics such as socioeconomic status. We are also identifying barriers and opportunities across the career pathway, from recruitment into the NHS through to promotion into senior roles. Where barriers have been overcome, we are seeking to draw out views on how transferable these interventions are between different staff groups and settings, and how initiatives can be supported to scale effectively. We are also identifying gaps in the evidence base to identify where further research and data are needed to drive an improved understanding of ‘what works’. That said, given the size of the topic, it is important to note that we are not seeking to provide a comprehensive assessment of all diversity issues in the NHS.

Of course, we are not the first to look into this area – many reports have been written on this topic – but we do intend to build on this existing work to develop some practical policy recommendations that can improve the current situation and support the ambitions in the People Plan.

Project outputs and timelines

The work started at the beginning of 2021 and we are intending to publish a report in early summer.

We produced a chart of the week in May based on emerging findings.

The team

The Nuffield Trust team includes Nina Hemmings, Billy Palmer, Camille Oung and Helen Buckingham.

The project is being supported and funded by NHS Employers.

Updated 12/05/2021