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Racism against nurses: nurse speaks out following hours of abuse

Care home nurse Beverly Simpson was subjected to racist slurs by a patient during a night shift and says employers urgently need to do more to protect staff

Care home nurse Beverly Simpson was subjected to racist slurs by a patient during a night shift and says employers urgently need to do more to protect staff

A nurse has told how she almost quit her job this month after a patient shouted out racist slurs for hours on a recent night shift.

Beverly Simpson, who works as a nurse in a care home in Derry, Northern Ireland, said she was left angry and broken after a patient repeatedly used derogatory racist language and told her ‘to go back to her own country’.

Call for protocols to deal with racist incidents instead of a ‘blanket of silence’

Care home nurse Beverly Simpson was subjected to racist slurs by a patient during a night shift and says employers urgently need to do more to protect staff

Nurse Beverly Simpson was subjected to hours of racist slurs by a patient
Nurse Beverly Simpson was subjected to hours of racist slurs by a patient

A nurse has told how she almost quit her job this month after a patient shouted out racist slurs for hours on a recent night shift.

Beverly Simpson, who works as a nurse in a care home in Derry, Northern Ireland, said she was left angry and broken after a patient repeatedly used derogatory racist language and told her ‘to go back to her own country’.

Call for protocols to deal with racist incidents instead of a ‘blanket of silence’

Ms Simpson reported the incident on 4 September to managers, who are now investigating. In the meantime, she has called on all employers and peers to do more to protect staff from racism that she says she encounters every week.

‘I have been a nurse for almost 30 years, but that night made me feel like I wanted to quit,’ she told Nursing Standard. ‘I was just worn down with it all. I’m human, I am hurt, but I still have to go back and treat this patient, be professional and hold my head up high.’

‘It’s all very well a black nurse standing up and saying it is wrong, but we need allies. There needs to be training and protocols on what to do in these situations. Instead, there is a blanket of silence.’

Ms Simpson qualified as a nurse in 1995 in Guyana, South America, before moving to Derry in 2005. Although she says she loves the city she has lived in for almost two decades, she admits that she still regularly encounters racist abuse from patients or their relatives. Now, after this incident on her shift, she wants things to change.

Nurses from ethnic minority backgrounds are most likely to experience abuse

Earlier this year the NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard published by NHS England showed that incidents of abuse by patients had dropped during the pandemic, most likely due to the reduction in services.

But nurses from ethnic minority backgrounds are the most likely to receive abuse – from patients and other members of staff.

As more nurses are coming from overseas to work in the UK, Ms Simpson said change needs to happen urgently.

‘If it stays like this they won’t stay – they will want to go elsewhere to somewhere where they have support,’ she said. ‘Coming to a new country is not easy.’

Time to tackle ‘severe and persistent’ racism against nurses in the UK

RCN Northern Ireland director Rita Devlin said racism has no place in the health service and its impact ‘casts a long shadow over nursing staff’.

‘Many of our members across the UK tell us that their experiences of racism have been severe and persistent,’ she says. ‘It is absolutely time to be bold and courageous in naming racism and seeking to tackle it in a concerted way.’

Ms Devlin added that the RCN is ‘extremely concerned’ about the lack of dedicated security staff in trusts, leaving nursing staff to deal with issues by themselves.


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