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Social mobility programme praised at east London hospitals

PUBLISHED: 12:08 22 June 2017 | UPDATED: 14:51 22 June 2017

Bus services to Newham University Hospital are set to be improved. Picture: Sandra Rowse

Bus services to Newham University Hospital are set to be improved. Picture: Sandra Rowse

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Barts Health NHS Trust has been praised for its efforts to recruit more people from working-class backgrounds.

The trust, which manages Newham University Hospital as well as the Royal London, Whipps Cross, Mile End and St Barts Hospitals, has been included in a list of the UK’s top 50 employers for taking action to improve social equality in the workplace.

It was the only NHS Trust to make the list, which is believed to be the world’s first-ever “social mobility employer index”.

It ranks employers on what they do to access talent from all backgrounds to make sure they are recruiting fairly.

Research has consistently shown that people from richer backgrounds take a disproportionate number of the best jobs.

Barts Health has tackled this with its Community Works for Health programme, which has provided more than 8,000 peope with work placements, training opportunities and careers guidance in hospitals since 2012.

It also runs Project Search, which gives young people with learning difficulties and learning disabilities with extended internships, that lead to permanent jobs where possible.

Alwen Williams, chief executive at the trust, said: “We are proud to be recognised for taking positive action to tackle and remove hurdles for people from lower socio-economic backgrounds who have talent, but lack a network of guidance, support and connections to get ahead.”

She added that this was not just good for society but also for health: “With employment linked to improved health outcomes, it is equally important that people living in deprived communities are supported to have the best possible career opportunities.”

Catherine McGuinness, policy chairman for the city of London Corporation, which helped publish the index. said: “These firms have shown real ambition in their approach to tackling social mobility. They are leading the way in removing the barriers which are holding back the best and brightest candidates in our society.

The news comes as cleaners, porters and security staff who work as contractors at Whipps Cross University Hospital, Royal London Hospital, St Bartholomew’s Hospital and Mile End Hospital plan to hold three strikes after their request for a 30p per hour pay rise was refused by their employers Serco.

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