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Bristol trust launches ‘red card’ scheme to deal with racist abuse from patients

Campaign aims to protect staff after spike in racist incidents over past year

Campaign aims to protect staff after spike in racist incidents over past year


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Patients who racially abuse nurses could be refused treatment as part of a scheme tackling abusive behaviour at an NHS trust in south west England.

North Bristol NHS Trust hopes its ‘red card’ campaign will protect staff from discrimination, following an increase in racist incidents on wards over the past year.

Strong signals and consequences for unacceptable behaviour

Any patient abusing staff will first be issued a disciplinary yellow card and a verbal warning, followed by a final red card that means treatment will be withdrawn as soon as is safe.

Trust chief executive Andrea Young said the organisation wanted to send a strong signal about unacceptable behaviour.

‘We want staff to challenge and report it, and we want everyone to know that it will have consequences,’ she said.

Racism is just one element of the trust’s abusive behaviour policy, which covers anyone with mental capacity using racist or sexist language, gestures or behaviour; using threatening and offensive language; making malicious allegations or excessive noise; abusing alcohol or drugs; or causing intentional damage to trust property.

Zero-tolerance policy towards racism

Bristol charity Stand Against Racism & Inequality’s strategic director Alex Raikes said the organisation is supporting the trust in enforcing the zero-tolerance approach towards racism and hate crime.

‘It is crucial that hospitals are safe, respectful and inclusive environments, and that all the hard-working employees feel fully supported when they face such abuse,’ she said.

In the 2018 NHS Staff Survey, 6.9% of staff said they had experienced discrimination from patients, service users and other members of the public, up from 6.6% in 2017. 


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