NHS bosses come under fire for spending millions on ‘woke non-jobs’ as frontline workers strike for better pay
- More than £1million of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ positions are on offer
- The news comes as health service struggles with a 7.2million-long waiting list
- Nurses and paramedics are also striking for better pay this month and next
Health service bosses were under fire tonight for shelling out millions of pounds on ‘woke non-jobs’ as frontline workers strike for better pay.
The Daily Mail can reveal that more than £1million worth of ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ related positions are on offer in hospitals and trusts across England and Wales, with most salaries dwarfing that of the average nurse.
The revelations come as the beleaguered health service struggles with a record-high 7.2million waiting list.
And this week nurses and paramedics held walkouts for two days of strikes, with further strikes announced for January yesterday.
The news that more than £1 million of diversity and inclusion comes amid the first-ever strike by nurses in England and Wales
Ambulance staff have also been striking over pay and conditions this month, with officials asking the public to only call 999 in life-threatening situations
One trust is recruiting for a ‘mindfulness lead’ to help staff meditate, for £40,000 a year. Another is looking for someone to ‘act as a change agent’, for up to £54,000, while a third health board offers its ‘lived experience training lead’ free yoga and Pilates sessions as part of the employment package.
Of the 20 ‘equality, diversity and inclusion’ (EDI)-related adverts analysed in a Mail audit, two thirds paid higher salaries than the average nurse’s annual pay packet of £33,384, as estimated by the Royal College of Nursing.
The most lucrative ad, for an ‘associate director of equality, diversity and inclusion’, paid almost three times this figure at nearly £97,000.
Sir John Hayes, chairman of the Common Sense Group of 60 Tory MPs, called for the health service to spend more cash on patient care and clinical roles.
‘While many roles with ‘equality’ or ‘diversity’ in the title are set up with good intentions, they often become meaningless or even worse,’ he said.
‘Yes, we all support the idea of a workforce which is happy and well supported, but we don’t want people to lecture us and unfortunately that is what many public bodies are doing.’
Jonathan Gullis, Tory MP for Stoke-on-Trent North, Kidsgrove & Talke, added: ‘It’s quite clear to people that this amount of money being wasted on these woke non-jobs could be better invested on frontline staff like nurses and ambulance drivers who are currently on strike for better pay.
‘It is wasting millions of pounds of hard-earned taxpayers’ money at a time when we are still tackling the Covid backlog and going through a cost of living crisis.’
It comes six months after former health secretary Sajid Javid said there were ‘too many working in roles focused solely on diversity and inclusion’ in the health service.
Nurses stage a protest outside St Thomas’ Hospital in London earlier this week as they demand better pay
Ambulance staff protest outside Waterloo ambulance station on Wednesday as paramedics, technicians and call handlers walk out
Current Health Secretary Steve Barclay has asked the NHS to publish online data showing how many staff work in each of its departments, including those focused on diversity schemes.
EDI roles generally involve promoting and maintaining equality within workforces to prevent employees from facing discrimination for their religion, sex, sexuality, disability and gender.
In the NHS, this may also include patients and others who require treatment or care.
And some identified by the Mail also came with other responsibilities – such as leadership or health and wellbeing.
However, many do not require a background in healthcare, with ‘NHS experience not essential’ for the top-paying associate director of EDI post at Barnet, Enfield & Haringey Mental Health NHS Trust.
‘Motivated by embedding an inclusive culture in complex organisations and comfortable in working across organisational boundaries, you will bring a track record of delivering successful EDI interventions and transformation,’ the advert reads.
Overall the top pay bands for the snapshot of EDI roles currently being advertised amounted to more than £1million on an annual basis.
Last week a trust was slammed for recruiting a £115,000-a-year ‘director of lived experience’ who is capable of creating ‘brave spaces’, and it is thought the NHS overall spends £40million a year on equality and inclusion staff.
‘Lived experience’ roles, which generally fall outside the EDI sector, usually require candidates to have experience of being treated for a long-term or serious health condition.
And two more of these jobs are currently being advertised, including a role for a ‘lived experience training lead’ which pays up to £47,672.
Anyone successful for the position at Norfolk & Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust would also be entitled to ‘free yoga and Pilates’ and ‘free physio’ available to all employees at the trust.
Meanwhile, a ‘band six mindfulness lead’ role is available in Birmingham with an annual salary of up to £40,588.
This job would involve working ‘closely with University Hospitals Birmingham’s two honorary Buddhist chaplains to provide taster sessions in mindfulness-based interventions’ to hospital staff.
And the successful candidate will have to ‘draw on their experience in mindfulness mediation’, according to the advert.
An employee would have to have held an NHS job in the same pay band for five years to qualify for the top rate. Meanwhile, a new starter would earn £33,706.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘It’s become increasingly difficult for taxpayers to believe the NHS top brass when they say there’s no more fat left to trim.
‘When patients are waiting hours for ambulances and lying on trolleys in hospital corridors, it’s simply unacceptable for trusts to pay top dollar for non-jobs.’
Saffron Cordery, interim chief executive, of NHS Providers, which represents NHS trusts, said trust leaders were ‘committed to ensuring that staff at every level are treated with dignity and respect’.
She added: ‘The recent government-commissioned Messenger Review underlined the importance of equality, diversity and inclusion in establishing an NHS-wide culture where leaders feel equipped to deal with all forms of discrimination.
‘It’s simply unacceptable that whole sections of the population suffer worse health outcomes and large numbers of NHS staff can’t give of their best as a result of how they are treated due to their ethnicity.’
An NHS England spokesman said it was up to individual trusts to decide how best they support their staff and that it was reducing its workforce by up to 40 per cent.
He added: ‘The NHS remains one of the most efficient health services in the world, spending a far lower proportion on administration costs than comparable countries to ensure we deliver maximum benefit for patients for every pound of taxpayer funding.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesman said: ‘Taxpayers rightly expect value for money from every penny spent in our NHS.
‘That is why the Health and Social Care Secretary has asked the NHS and all of the department’s arms-length bodies to publish online organograms showing the job titles and the number of people working in each department including those dedicated to diversity programmes.
‘We will continue to look at what works best to support staff from ethnic minorities and what is less effective in our drive to get the best outcomes and value for money.’