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What should nurse employers be doing to tackle racist abuse from patients and relatives?

A more proactive, zero tolerance stance against overt and subtle racism is needed, say readers

A more proactive, zero tolerance stance against overt and subtle racism is needed, say our readers

A nurse recently generated a tidal wave of support on social media and received an award from his NHS employer after he tweeted about racial abuse from a patient .

But what more should employers be doing to tackle racist abuse aimed at nurses by patients and relatives? Nursing Standard readers have their say.

Stacy Johnson is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham @misssdjohnson

Employers must set the expectation that staff will intervene where there is obvious and more subtle racism from patients, relatives and staff, and should provide training in effective intervention.

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A more proactive, zero tolerance stance against overt and subtle racism is needed, say our readers

Picture: iStock

A nurse recently generated a tidal wave of support on social media and received an award from his NHS employer after he tweeted about racial abuse from a patient.

But what more should employers be doing to tackle racist abuse aimed at nurses by patients and relatives? Nursing Standard readers have their say.


Stacy Johnson is an associate professor at the University of Nottingham
@misssdjohnson

Employers must set the expectation that staff will intervene where there is obvious – and more subtle – racism from patients, relatives and staff, and should provide training in effective intervention.

Racist incidents are underreported because often black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff are not believed or they are told they are being sensitive. Even worse, BAME staff sometimes report that no action is taken even where racism is undeniable.

Until the NHS leadership is more representative of the workforce and our communities, and until there is more diversity of thought in the workforce, racism will persist. The NHS community cannot afford to look away anymore.


Francis Fernando is a head of nursing at a London NHS trust and founding director of the Filipino Nurses Association UK
@fernandof1974

Nursing employers have a duty of care to their employees, a legal and moral obligation to ensure their safety, and must have zero tolerance of racist abuse from patients and relatives.

A fifth of the UK’s nursing workforce comes from overseas, with staff from more than 200 countries and Filipino nurses making up the biggest overseas staff group. We would not have an NHS if it were not for these staff.

We provide high quality evidence-based care to patients, and we don’t expect to be racially harassed. We’ve sacrificed so much, especially in this pandemic, which has claimed so many of our comrades’ lives. UK society must unite against racism.


Sherene Gayle is a third-year adult nursing student at Middlesex University

Underreported racist abuse is a particular problem among nursing students from BAME backgrounds, who worry that their academic record will be affected if they speak out.

The NHS and universities alike need to tackle racism, by taking a proactive anti-racism approach with video and social media campaigns involving senior staff members. They also need to support BAME staff networks.

I have encountered racism as a nursing student on placement during the COVID-19 pandemic. During this time, our own student network, the Student Healthcare Academics Race Equality Diversity Inclusivity Network, supported me.


Alethea Browne is a second-year nursing student at Birmingham City University

I’d like to see mandatory training put in place for all healthcare staff about stereotyping of different racial groups and ethnicities, as this would make people more aware of what is acceptable.

Although some racist behaviour is intentional, often it stems from ignorance and lack of understanding. On placement, I’ve been warned that my assertiveness may be seen as rude or aggressive, yet I’ve noticed white colleagues being praised for acting similarly.

More needs to be done to remove such racial stereotypes in the workplace and educate people that assertiveness, when appropriate, should be praised regardless of colour.


Readers’ panel members give their views in a personal capacity only

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