Registered staff should stand up for students facing the racism of patients

Professor Laura Serrant said nursing students still encounter the sort of prejudice from patients that she did when training in the early 1980s

Nursing students from black or minority ethnic backgrounds face similar prejudices to those seen in the early 1980s, with some patients refusing to be treated by them, a leading nurse researcher said.

Laura Serrant
Laura Serrant. Credit: David Gee

Speaking at the Queen's Nursing Institute annual meeting in Birmingham today, Laura Serrant, a professor of community and public health nursing at the University of Wolverhampton, said BME students have told her that patients have said: 'I do not want that nurse touching me'.

Professor Serrant, also NHS England's research lead for compassion in practice, told the conference she experienced the same sort of prejudice when she was a student.

'The onus is on the qualified nurses on the wards to not allow that to happen,' she said. 'Leadership starts from the point of saying "this is not how we do things".'

She added that students need to know they will be supported to challenge racism from patients.