NHS spends more than £8.2m on ‘woke warriors’ in diversity jobs - The Telegraph - 26.12.22
Ministers urged to ‘get a grip and ensure that funds are directed towards front-line roles as inclusion posts ‘consume ever more resources’
By Lizzie Roberts, Health Correspondent
NHS trusts are spending more than £8.2 million a year on diversity and inclusion jobs, The Telegraph can reveal.
The figures, revealed through Freedom of Information requests, relate to just 70 of the 125 acute hospital trusts across England – suggesting the scale of the spending could be far higher.
It comes after job adverts posted by 16 trusts in one month alone revealed they would cost the taxpayer more than £700,000 annually.
The new data show that in 2022, the 70 trusts are employing 187 people in equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) roles – almost three per employer.
In total, the 187 jobs are costing the NHS up to £8,220,783 a year.
It comes after the NHS warned it was facing a £7 billion funding shortfall and could be forced to cut services due to rising inflation and the cost of this year’s pay award.
The Government subsequently announced an extra £6.6 billion of funding over the next two years in the Autumn Statement for the NHS. But experts warned the increase would not account for rising inflation and other unexpected costs.
Some of the hospital trusts which replied to requests admitted they were employing up to 10 people in diversity jobs.
King's College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust has nine staff working in EDI roles, Manchester University NHS Foundation Trust has nine filled and one currently advertised, while the Northern Care Alliance NHS Foundation Trust has at least nine full-time employees in such roles.
The three trusts’ spending on the EDI roles accounts for 16 per cent (up to £1.3m) of the total.
King’s College Hospital also has the highest paid individual employee in a diversity role, with one member of staff earning up to £128,600 a year.
‘Woke box ticking’
It comes after Steve Barclay, the Health Secretary, last month ordered a crackdown on diversity jobs in the NHS amid fears “woke box ticking” is costing taxpayers millions of pounds.
Mr Barclay is alarmed at the “spiralling cost” of the jobs, it was reported last month.
A Whitehall source told The Sun said: “Steve is very concerned about the spiralling cost of these jobs. The numbers are clearly getting out of hand.
“Patients want every penny of NHS cash to go into fixing the service, not hiking the management payroll and increasing the burden of woke box ticking.
“We need to look out whether we are tackling inequality in healthcare the most effective way. Ministers will be reviewing this spending urgently.”
‘Taxpayers will be shocked’
Meanwhile, the health service is battling to bring down a record backlog of 7.2 million people waiting to start treatment.
Commenting on the latest figures, John O'Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: “Taxpayers will be shocked at the scale of the diversity industry in the NHS.
“While patients battle for every appointment and operation, woke warriors consume ever more resources. Ministers need to get a grip and ensure that funds are directed towards frontline roles.”
Some trusts which responded to requests said they had no staff working in EDI roles, including East Cheshire NHS Trust, South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust and Tameside Hospital NHS Foundation Trust.
A recent report by the Institute of Fiscal Studies (IFS) found the NHS has more money and staff but is treating fewer patients than before the pandemic.
NHS funding in 2022/23 is 11.1 per cent higher than in 2019/20, the report said, but the service was treating “substantially fewer” patients.
A spokesman for King’s College Hospital said the trust was “investing to make the Trust a more equal, diverse and inclusive environment for our staff, and for patients to receive care”.
“We were one of the very first NHS Trusts to appoint a Board-level Director for Equality, Diversity and Inclusion, and we are committed to the importance of this role, and the work of the wider EDI team.”
It comes as the Health Secretary ordered NHS organisations to hand over full details of the officials dedicated to diversity roles, including civil service rank and salary.
Data revealed that NHS England employed 33 staff in EDI roles with salaries totalling around £2 million a year.
‘Platoons of the virtue-signalling’
A DHSC source said: “These figures confirm that NHS spending on officials in dedicated equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) roles has spiralled out of control in recent years and needs to be slashed.
“The Health and Social Care Secretary is gripping this issue and has ordered full disclosure of EDI roles across NHS organisations to highlight spending like this.
“He is reviewing these bloated budgets so resources can be diverted towards schemes that genuinely tackle health inequalities.
"Taxpayers rightly expect value for money from every penny spent in our NHS. They want NHS cash invested in treatment and care for patients, not squandered on hiring platoons of virtue-signalling bureaucrats.”
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