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What do the words “Gypsy” and “Traveller” mean to you?

  • Comments (7)
  • Article: Francis G (2011) Attitudes towards Gypsy Travellers. Nursing Times; 107: 39, early online publication.
  • Author: Gill Francis is health inclusion worker for Travellers and Gypsies at Homerton University Hosptial, NHS Foundation Trust, London.

Key points

  • Gypsy Travellers experience inequalities, and have poorer health than other English-speaking black and minority ethnic groups in the UK
  • Nurses often have a limited understanding of Gypsy Travellers’ culture and issues affecting them; perceptions can be influenced by media stereotypes
  • Bias is a normal survival mechanism; recognising this can make it easier to discuss negative views about a particular group
  • In accordance with the Nursing and Midwifery Council’s code of conduct, nurses must demonstrate a professional and personal commitment to equality and diversity
  • Training can help nurses to challenge negative attitudes, and explore how such views can lead to discriminatory practices

Let’s discuss

  • What do the words “Gypsy” and “Traveller” mean to you?
  • Where do your perceptions come from? For example, are they influenced by your personal experience of travellers or media stereotypes?
  • If a nurse has negative perceptions of a particular group or community do you think this affects the care they give to people from that group?
  • There is often a gap between personally held views and opinions and our public voice and professional practice. Is it possible to compartmentalise personal views from professional practice?

Follow the debate on Twitter #NTjournalclub

  • Comments (7)

Readers' comments (7)

  • For crying out loud. As an individual, many things, some positive, some negative.

    As a professional Nurse on duty treating a patient, the term means nothing.

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  • Mike, was about to type the same thing - but you beat me to it! Like you say, as individuals, we make internal judgements but, as nurses/HCPs, we are not there to judge people, our job is to care and treat everyone in a non-jugemental dignified manner.

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  • Anonymous

    Mmmm i don't know it does mean something to me-
    poor life expectancy rate
    low education level
    different cultural practices- i remember having huge disagreements with a travling family because they wanted us to release their family members body so they could burn them on a fire in their camp.
    I think yes all people are individuals but if they are in a particulatar 'group' we should be aware of the issues that can be present in the 'group'
    yes people are negative towards travelers i remember people in my village saying to each other "remember and close your windows the travelers have arrived"
    i think we need to be mindful that they are a segregated 'group' in society -if they are in a 4 bed bay there may be stereotypical issues to overcome with other people who are sharing the room.

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  • Anonymous

    Interesting that a cultural group's reference would mean nothing to people. How would you be able to give the best care to that community in the context of their culture then? How would you be aware of what risks in healthcare or access some people may be facing in contacting your service? If the term means nothing to you, how would you be able to understand what someone from that culture may need?

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  • Anonymous | 5-Oct-2011 1:47 pm, because articles like this never mean giving cultural contextual care, they are about 'ensuring we are not prejudiced', two very different things, and implying that Nurses will often be prejudicial and biased by default unless they reflect and try very hard not to, an inference that I take offence at.

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  • Each and everyone of ss prejudice and have a tendency to sterotype it is programme dinternally. That fine, the problem occurs when we open our mouth and say negative things or treat someone differently because of their ethnicity or culture. We need to have an understand of the culture and be culturally sensitive and aware. We should not let our feelings or thought prejudice or actions or behaviour. Painful as it may sounds I have seen this happens so many times

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  • Anonymous

    I totally agree with Mike 3-Oct-2011 6:27 pm

    personally differnet things good and bad but professionally i see them as the same as anybody else.

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