A message from NHS Charities Together’s CEO, Ellie Orton

Public Health England’s report earlier this month on the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 on people from BAME communities highlighted that the burden created by this disease does not fall equally on all of us. It is why we are asking our members to submit applications for the additional support they feel is most urgently needed by NHS staff, volunteers and patients in their area, with a particular focus on support for people who are disproportionately affected by the Covid crisis, such as patients and staff from the BAME communities and other groups including those living with disabilities.

NHS England figures in June showed that hospital deaths per 100,000 among British people of a black Caribbean background were three times the equivalent number among the white British population. NHS staff and volunteers of colour are at greater risk than their colleagues and we are working with our members to identify how we can get additional support to them to counter that. 

However, like many other organisations, the growing momentum behind the Black Lives Matters movement has made us look again at how well we are representing the diversity of the communities we seek to support, and in particular people of colour. And, like so many others, it is clear that we have a long way to go.

BAME staff and volunteers, from the UK and from around the world, have been part of the lifeblood of the NHS pretty much since its inception over 70 years ago. They have been there for us throughout this crisis, even though it has been clear for some time that the risks for them are higher than for others.

We need to do more to ensure their concerns, needs and experiences are part of the decision making processes for how our grants are distributed and used. We need make sure the team and trustees at NHS Charities Together and the teams and trustees at our member charities better represent the communities we support.

To that end, we are actively looking at practical ways to bring in more people of colour as decision makers in our grant-making, both as trustees for NHS Charities Together and to be part of our grant panels, and we are making it a major plank of our work with our members to support them on doing the same. For the current round of funding, we have asked our members to indicate in their bids where they have listened to and responded to the thoughts, experiences and needs of  BAME staff, volunteers and patients and incorporated that into their proposal for support. We want the people who decide the support we provide to communities to be representative of those communities. It is the very least BAME staff, volunteers and patients should expect.