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'Inequality and discrimination are ever-present in our NHS'

  • 1 Comment

The NHS constitution requires the NHS to provide a comprehensive service available to all irrespective of gender, race, disability, age, sexual orientation, religious beliefs, gender reassignment, parental status or marital or civil partnership status.

To me, this is as clear as it gets, but unfortunately inequality and discrimination are ever-present in our NHS and many of us are not aware of it.

Despite the introduction of the Race Equality Action Plan in 2004 I believe we are no further forwards - the statistics show that the situation is getting worse not better, with falling numbers of BME managers.

Without the contribution of BME staff the NHS would have collapsed by now. The NHS has a highly diverse workforce but as Roger Kline demonstrates in the Snowy White Peaks report, BME staff at all levels are still grossly under-represented, particularly at senior levels.

The gap between the diversity of the local population and workforce is astonishing and the Snowy White Peaks report showed that there is a clear link between the treatment of BME staff and the quality of patient care.

Yet things are changing, and we have a golden opportunity to stop talking and start acting but everybody needs to stand up and take action to drive change forward.

With Simon Stevens as the new CEO of NHS England, for the first time I can see positive change ahead. A Workforce Race Equality Standard is to be introduced next April, requiring organisations to demonstrate progress against a number of indicators that measure workforce equality.

Jane Cummings, Chief Nursing Officer (CNO) for England, is taking steps to tackle the issue and has committed to putting equality and diversity at the heart of nursing practice.

But while things are happening at the top we still have a responsibility to start to acting on the frontline. As BME staff we need to believe in our potential. It is time to take responsibility and ask yourself what you personally can do to create a better NHS.

Do not wait for things to change, initiate that change and make the first step happen; it is the only way to move from where we are to where we want to be.

Joan Pons Laplana

  • 1 Comment

Readers' comments (1)

  • I have been to interviews for grade 6, grade 5 specialised nursing in neo natal and in cardiac with no success. Since moving to the South West I have noticed that I have opportunities only open to me for grade 5 in Elderly, Medical and general Surgical.
    I have been a nurse for over 20 years with BA Hon in another field I have a wealth of experience working in Hospitals across the country, a few nursing homes and prisons. I do not only have nursing experience behind me I have other work experiences in the science field, teaching and other public sector jobs.
    I am very intelligent, yet very down to earth and very easy to get on with, I am a very hard worker and no job is too small.
    I am fit in my fifties and West Indian.
    A British nursing government recruitment team came to my country in the Eighties to recruit the best. I got chosen then. Now if those very same people were to interview me again for any of the jobs I went for, but did not get, I am very certain they would not only give me the job, they would ask if I am willing to take on a more managerial post within nursing. They knew exactly what they were looking for and there was nothing about not taking a non white, however, I have suffered racial discrimination terribly since my training, but that got a bit better when I qualified or I just got used to it and it stopped bothering me. Unfortunately it has raise its ugly head again here in the South West where you are more likely to get the job if you are blond and young.
    I can never be racial, I simply cannot understand how one would want to betray nursing by taking on a lesser able nurse because they are not the black or coloured one.
    One benefit (if I can call it that) of the doubt I can give people like that is that they feel threatened. Really there is no need to be.
    Can we not work together for an improvement in Nursing?
    I believe if nursing has more intelligent, kind and compassionate people the whole structure will improve.

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