By John Ely Senior Health Reporter For Mailonline
12:27 17 Nov 2023, updated 16:50 17 Nov 2023
NHS bosses are offering a £100,000 contract for anti-racism consultancy services, MailOnline can reveal.
The tender — branded ‘woke’ by critics — was posted by NHS Blood and Transplant (NHSBT), which manages blood supplies and organ donation in the UK.
The successful bidder will ’embed intentionally inclusive and anti-racist behaviours across our organisation’.
NHSBT wants a ‘solution’ that includes topics such as ‘racial equity, social justice, civility, cultural intelligence, and active bystander and inclusion’.
Critics slammed the six-figure spend on ‘woke waste’ and called for ‘every penny’ to go towards frontline care instead.
Cash-strapped hospitals are considering scaling back operations this winter to balance the books, despite the waiting list sitting at an all-time high.
But NHSBT argued that hiring an anti-racist consultancy would help to tackle backlogs by increasing the organisation’s credibility with ethnic minority Brits. It follows allegations of years of racism at the service.
A spokesperson said: ‘This project contributes to delivering better frontline care and reducing waiting lists, particularly for patients from ethnic minority backgrounds.
‘Our staff need to be able to encourage more donors from ethnically diverse backgrounds to donate blood, organs and stem cells.
‘This will mean we give more patients the best treatment that saves and improves their lives.’
NHSBT claims that boosting donations from minority groups would reduce the organ transplant waiting list and help prevent Brits with blood disorders needing A&E care, dropping overall pressure on the NHS.
In the application document, NHSBT wrote the consultancy was part of its ‘vision’ to be an ‘intentionally inclusive and anti-racist’ organisation.
NHSBT added the contract will be considered a success when their employees have a greater understanding of ‘race equity’, they are not disadvantaged by their characteristics, and its recruitment policies are ‘intentionally inclusive’.
Tom Ryan, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign group, told MailOnline the public would be dismayed by the spend, adding: ‘Taxpayers are sick of seeing vital health funds spent on these right-on initiatives.
‘With waiting lists still punishingly long, every penny should be directed at delivering frontline care.
‘It’s time for the Health Service to put patients first and crack down on woke waste.’
The anti-racism contract comes just weeks after ex-health secretary Steve Barclay wrote to NHS leaders slamming them for wasting taxpayer cash on costly diversity officers rather than spending it on frontline care.
He wrote: ‘Current live adverts include jobs with salaries of up to £96,376, which is above the basic full-time pay for a newly promoted consultant.
‘I do not consider that this represents value for money, even more so at a time when budgets are under pressure as we work to tackle the backlog left by the pandemic.’
Mr Barclay was sacked last week.
His successor, Victoria Atkins, has yet to make a similar commitment to crack down on woke waste in the NHS.
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC), which is one of the key funders of NHSBT, said: ‘Taxpayers rightly expect value for money from every penny spent in our NHS.
‘That is why the NHS and all of the department’s arms-length bodies continuously review whether their diversity and inclusion projects are good value for money, and consider ways to improve.’
NHSBT has previously been accused of racist practices and attitudes.
In October last year, Melissa Thermidor, a marketing executive who worked for NHSBT, revealed she was suing the service for constructive dismissal.
She claimed she was subjected to racist stereotypes such as being a ‘shouty’ and ‘aggressive’ black woman.
Ms Thermidor also shockingly claimed that colleagues used a disparaging term of ‘Tesco donors’ to refer to black people who donated blood because that’s where colleagues allegedly said black people were most likely to shop.
And in 2020, an independent report was leaked which claimed there was ‘evidence of systemic racism’ at an NHSBT site.
The body’s six-figure splurge comes as other parts of the Health Service in England have been told they can cancel elective care appointments to help balance their budgets.
A wave of unprecedented industrial action by staff created £1.1billion financial black hole, as hospitals had to pay ‘premium rates’ to for other workers to cover the strikers.
Health bosses had hoped to recoup the funds from Government, but Downing Street only gave them £800million.
This led to NHS England telling trusts to scale back routine care for the rest of the year in a bid to ‘achieve financial balance’.
NHSBT is a special health authority sponsored by DHSC, meaning it is separate from the general umbrella of NHS England and other national bodies.
Organ and blood donation rates from minority groups in Britain have lagged behind national averages for years.
The latest data from NHSBT, for 2022/23, shows only 4 and 2 per cent of deceased donors were from Asian or Black backgrounds, respectively.
In contrast, people from Asian backgrounds accounted for 19 per cent of the transplant waiting list, and for Black Brits this was 11 per cent.
Blood donation also lags behind need, with only 1 per cent of active blood donors being Black.
This is despite 55 per cent of Black people having a blood type that can help treat patients with the blood disorder sickle cell anaemia, a condition that disproportionately affects Black Brits.
In comparison, just 2 per cent of the general population have the Ro blood subtype that patients with sickle cell need.