More than a dozen NHS trusts are hiring diversity managers despite a government review suggesting the roles should be cut back.
An investigation has found at least 17 open jobs for diversity and inclusion roles across the country, budgeting up to almost £1 million in annual salaries.
It comes after a landmark report this summer set out plans for a shake-up of NHS management, including reducing the number of equality, diversity and inclusion roles over time.
Liverpool University Hospitals NHS Trust is advertising for an interim associate director of equality, diversity and inclusion with a salary of up to £77,274 a year.
The candidate will lead the Trust’s equality strategy including the development of “an inclusive, diverse and engaging culture”, according to the job description.
Current diversity jobs pay total of over £900,000 a year
While University College London Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust is advertising for a new role as the equality, diversity and inclusion lead, paying up to £72,639 a year, it is understood the job is charitably funded.
The investigation by the Taxpayer’s Alliance also found an advert for a part-time position at the Stockport NHS Foundation Trust, as equality, diversity and inclusion manager, offering candidates up to £44,503 a year with the ability to work from home.
The 17 jobs currently advertised on the NHS Jobs site could pay the candidates up to £926,962 a year in total.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers are sick of seeing precious resources used to pay for NHS diversity hires on bumper salaries.
“While health bosses cry out that services are at breaking point, NHS bodies continue pumping out ads for yet more diversity demagogues.
“Ministers need to get a grip and ensure these right-on roles are wound down.”
Conservative leadership hopeful Liz Truss said this week the answer to problems in the NHS is not more funding, but changing a “culture” of waste within the service.
“We have to change the culture of the NHS. In my view it’s not about more money, it’s about the culture,” she said at the penultimate leadership hustings in Norwich, hosted by TalkTV, on Thursday.
“Lots of people I know in the NHS say, you know, ‘there’s waste. There’s waste of prescription drugs, there’s waste of resources’.”
Review warned of ‘institutional inadequacy’ in way NHS is run
The findings by the Taxpayers’ Alliance come after the Messenger Review, led by former Vice Chief of the Defence Staff General Sir Gordon Messenger, warned of “institutional inadequacy” in the way the NHS is run and called for major reforms.
Sir Gordon said more work was needed to improve equality in the NHS and suggested this is the responsibility of all leaders.
Sajid Javid, the former Health Secretary, accepted the reports recommendations in full.
He said at the time: “In my view, there are already too many working in roles focused solely on diversity and inclusion, and at a time when our constituents are facing real pressures around cost of living, we must spend every penny on patients’ priorities.
“As this report sets out, it should be the responsibility of everyone to encourage fairness and equality of opportunity which is why we must reduce the number of these roles.”
Sir Gordon later said his report was not recommending cutting the number of equality diversity (EDI) and inclusion roles.
“What it does say, is that if one successfully inculcates equality, diversity and inclusion to every leader’s responsibilities, then that becomes an accepted, instinctive, understood part of being a leader and a manager at every level, then the requirement for dedicated EDI professionals should reduce over time,” he told the Health Service Journal.
“It doesn’t make the recommendation that that should happen before that cultural and behavioural and functional shift has happened.”
It is understood the hiring of EDI roles is the responsibility of individual trusts and is not overseen by NHS England.
The findings come as NHS bosses warn the service is facing pressures across urgent and emergency care this summer usually only seen in the winter.
Matthew Taylor, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, said this week the health service is planning for “what is widely expected to be the busiest winter on record with a triple threat of Covid, flu and norovirus and against a backdrop of 105,000 vacancies, crumbling estate, rising treatment backlogs and an under-supported social care sector”.