Report by Chanelle Peters, National School of Healthcare Science Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Committee Chair.
The committee aims to raise awareness, support and affect change, enhance quality and ensure all stakeholders are treated, listened, and responded to equitably.
Since the NSHCS Equality Diversity & Inclusion (EDI) Committee’s launch in August 2020 we have had a total of 22 members including a Chair and Deputy appointed by majority votes. The committee’s priority was to first establish what our Terms of Reference would be so we could clearly identify our remit and manage expectations. We meet once a month to discuss agenda items and establish actions for us collectively, individually and any actions required from members of the school who may not be a member of the committee.
It was clear from the start that unanimously the vision of this committee was to show accountability for how our current process can be improved to fulfil our aims to promote equality, diversity, and inclusion. The committee strived to remove barriers and find reasonable solutions to issues that are brought to their attention. We did not want to be a group that only acts in reaction to matters but be pro-active in finding initiatives to prevent further issues arising. The committee want to make strategic change that embeds/threads EDI within its processes and culture.
As a school that employs staff from different protected characteristics, it is inevitable that individuals will have had their own experiences of adversity and challenges. These individuals wanted to be able to use this platform to share knowledge, ideas and be pro-active to help towards the goal of creating a more inclusive environment, for not only themselves but for the trainees we provide a service to and stakeholders we work with.
We also want to recognise the impact of the open letter that we received from our trainees in 2020, highlighting what they wish to see from the school to improve equality, diversity, and inclusion on the STP programme. We are on the same page with this and want to make sure that we work together with our trainee networks to achieve these goals.
Initiatives inspired through the committee
It was recognised that there was a need to connect with each other, especially during the pandemic as we did not have the luxury to see people in person and there were school members who live in isolation, therefore we wanted to find ways to make this process of working from home easier.
In the last 12 months the school introduced inclusive focused activities and conversations at our whole school Tuesday meetings. School staff had the opportunity to present topics that they related to or felt inspired to share. Examples of these were ‘Hello my name is…”, Black history month, Autism awareness, Ramadan celebrations, Jewish celebrations, Earth Day and many more. This allowed us to connect with each other, create honest, healthy and open conversations, identify, share and celebrate our similarities and our differences.
The intention was to also help minimise any unconscious biases we may have had due to the lack of knowledge and as a result consider how these could also affect our service users.
We have also created a dedicated section on our website for EDI to identify who the committee are, how to contact us and provide valuable resources. One of the resources is our conscious inclusion training created by one of our committee members Jas Daine who at the time was also our Education Training Manager. We sent the draft to our Scientist trainee network and Health Education England (HEE) Regional Inclusion and participation managers to get their thoughts, which was positively received before officially publishing. The training is now sent to our stakeholders when they are invited to participate in our school events such as recruitment interviews, shortlisting, final assessment panels to encourage them to be aware of any unconscious biases that may affect their decisions.
The school introduced the requirement to include at a minimum of two EDI specific questions when interviewing for a new post at the school. Several committee members created a bank of questions that could be used based on relevancy and adapted to where necessary. Interviewing managers are also aware that there is a requirement to have a member from the committee to sit on the panel to ensure there is someone representing the committee’s values and to uphold them.
HEEs Regional Participation managers offer workshops around EDI, these vary from Unconscious bias training, micro-aggression training, allyship, managing work-life balance and gaining interview skills. This has been rolled out and encouraged for the school to participate in as it can ensure individuals are continuously educating themselves, educating others and challenging themselves to maintain NHS values.
Members of the committee collaborated with stakeholders to the school including the Chief Scientific Office where we created and hosted on their behalf a Healthcare science EDI survey to capture representation and obtain their experiences within the organisation from recruitment right through to retention. Several have worked with the HEE Regional inclusion and participation managers, sharing our resources with them including our training, interview questions Bank. We have also been included in their Inclusive Recruitment Project as they wanted our input in this project, we have now started our own initiative at the school for recruitment to our training programmes. We met with the BAME Scientist Trainee Network to set agenda items to discuss and produce action points based on any improvements that can be made at the school to better the trainees experience on the programme.
How does this align with HEEs people plan?
We believe that our aims are in line with HEEs people plan for 2020/21 and specifically embracing the four pillars to:
- looking after our people – with quality health and wellbeing support for everyone
- belonging in the NHS – with a particular focus on tackling the discrimination that some staff face
- new ways of working and delivering care – making effective use of the full range of our people’s skills and experience
- growing for the future – how we recruit and keep our people, and welcome back colleagues who want to return
Looking at the different initiatives we have introduced in the school it has allowed us to consciously and sub-consciously live up to the standards expected from us. We have used the current circumstances and channelled it into improving the environment we work in.
Compliments and concerns (testimonials/comments from departments)
The committee’s collaborations with teams in the school have led to a positive response, this is based upon the feedback received from managers when invited to our monthly meetings to give updates during and post events. Curriculum team expressed their gratitude to our contribution to the new curriculum for trainees to improve the competencies that capture Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
New starters to the school have expressed how impressed they are when interviewed and ED&I questions were included and that it set a tone for what the school stood for. They were able to view our ED&I section before-hand and therefore already aware of the committee’s existence. Thanks to the website, we now receive queries and interest from external stakeholders and organisations on a variety of topics from advice, requests for resources, collaboration requests and support. We are also open to receiving any constructive criticism from those who visit the website on what they would like to see and how we can improve what already exists so we can deal with it appropriately.
Since the websites EDI section launched it received a total of 1,982 page views between July 1st – 21st September. 645 of those views accessed the Conscious inclusion training making it the most popular resource in that section. We can only hope that as we continue to advertise and promote, we will see further increase to numbers although this number is impressive for such a short period of time. The website has encouraged stakeholders to reach out to us for advice, to work in partnership and to gain a better understanding of what our goals are as a school.
Committee’s future plans
Over the coming 12 months the committee wants to maintain our working relationships we have produced since August 2020, and continue to address the following points:
- Continue to come up with initiatives to improve the programmes we run through the school.
- Continue to engage in and introduce inclusive activities for the school.
- Respond to issues raised in the open letter from trainees in 2020.
- Delving deeper into data.
- Publish recruitment and other school data to our school website.
- Work on more impact studies.
- Look at ways we promote healthcare science to various individuals and early in the educational stage.
- Explore how we can be more inclusive for school staff.
- Work closely with HEE to improve how we promote Equality, Diversity and Inclusion.
- Continue to expand our EDI networks and work with Stakeholders to glean and implement good practice.
Since the committee’s existence we have engaged with our chief executive Navina Evans, HEE regional participation managers and been invited to present at the regional webinar to showcase the school’s initiatives. We hope to expand on these relationships and continue to connect with many more in the future.