The data, collected by RcPsych from the year 2020 as part of the NHS annual staff survey found:

  • 'A third (32.7%) of 16,165 ethnic minority respondents experienced harassment, bullying or abuse at work from patients/service users, their relatives or other members of the public.
  • A fifth (19.6%) of 15,985 ethnic minority respondents experienced harassment, bullying or abuse at work from other colleagues.
  • More than 1 in 8 (13.2%) of 16,031 ethnic minority respondents experienced harassment, bullying or abuse at work from managers.
  • Around 4 in 10 (37.9%) of 6,287 people of ethnic minority didn’t report the harassment, bullying or abuse the last time it happened.
  • 86% of staff from ethnic minorities in mental health trusts who experienced discrimination said it was based on their ethnic background'

“NHS leaders and local health bosses must tackle this head on while also improving conditions for ethnic minority people working in mental health.”

In response to this data, RcPsych is calling for an immediate stand against bullying, discrimination and harassment. RcPsych also emphasised the importance of an effective process to record and understand this data about harassment, in large part to address the lack of confidence present in reporting incidents of racial harassment and bullying.

President of RcPsych, Dr Adrian James has said:

“This analysis is deeply concerning and shows the NHS has a long way to go in improving conditions and opportunities for career progression are available to everyone, not just white people...It’s bad for the NHS and bad for our patients if motivated and talented people are held back because of their background.”

This statement from Dr James comes as the data analysis also found that 39% of ethnic minorities surveyed, face obstacles in their career progression. However, job satisfaction as a result of patient interaction seems largely unaffected with 93% saying that their role makes a difference to the patients in their care and another 78% saying they deliver the level of care they aspire to.

The Royal College of Psychiatrists calls on named executive board leads in mental health trusts to lead the way in implementing strategy to improve career progression for ethnic minority staff

RcPsych says this must start from the top down, with more diversity in leadership positions and regular reviews to reflect on the effectiveness of these career progression strategies.

RcPsych’s presidential lead for race equality, Dr Lade Smith has said:

“The evidence from multiple surveys proves that ethnic minority staff continue to suffer racism and discrimination and this affects their work satisfaction, performance and career progression. There is also increasing evidence that it affects both their mental and physical health.”

Reflecting on the NHS’ current strategy Dr Smith said, “Despite the best efforts of some employers, there has been little change over the years. Unhappy staff are less efficient, less productive and less able to provide high quality care. Healthcare leaders must begin to tackle the insidious racism and discrimination that can take place in the workplace. They must develop robust reporting processes, that staff can feel confident in using, aimed at supporting demonstrable improvements.”

Running since 2003, the NHS Staff Survey is the most comprehensive review of the staff experience, across all organisations. Since 2003, all statistics on harassment, bullying or abuse whilst at work have been consistently higher for ethnic minority staff than for White staff members.

These findings paired with the City Mental Health Alliance findings in June of this year on the general experience of those from a Black, Asian or Minority Ethnic background at work point to an undeniable problem within our workplaces here in the UK.

Whilst individual efforts can make small differences to those experiencing racism and harassment at work, it seems change on a larger scale, from top down, within the various organisations and sectors is necessary to create sustainable and permanent change.