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History often turns on the unexpected, and positive developments can emerge from crises, driven by necessity or opportunity.
It feels like we are in one of those instances now. Coronavirus has shone a huge spotlight on the inequalities faced by health and social care staff from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds.
Multiple reports have now confirmed that nursing and other staff from BAME backgrounds are at increased risk from Covid-19 – and that this is often the result of institutional racism and bullying. The increased prominence of the Black Lives Matter movement has coincided with these revelations, highlighting the cultural inequalities faced by many across the world.
And let’s not forget last month’s annual Windrush Day, which highlighted the challenges still experienced by the generation of people who came to the UK from the Caribbean in the 1950s and made an enormous contribution to the early NHS.
“We need real and sustained change from healthcare organisations, and we need it now”
Surely, we have now reached a point where, rather than simply acknowledging we have a problem with inequalities, action at all levels is long overdue. The Workforce Race Equality Standard is a great initiative that has put inequality on the agenda in a measurable way. But progress has been slow, and that must change. We need real and sustained change from healthcare organisations, and we need it now.
The events of the last few months have provided the opportunity to make that change a reality. This issue of Nursing Times draws together articles on the theme of inequality and what must be done to tackle it.
This month’s featured interview is with a nurse who has been at the forefront of the drive for equality across the NHS. Yvonne Coghill has been director of the WRES programme for the past five years and has spoken candidly about the reasons for inequalities in the NHS and how individuals can help within their sphere of influence.
This month’s opinion section is dedicated to BAME nurses, with articles by Joan Myers, Nesta Williams, and Sunny Sander-Jackson setting out why now is the time for change. We have also spoken to nurses working in mental health and learning disabilities about how Covid-19 has also shone a light on problems in these services.
We at Nursing Times will do whatever we can to call out inequality wherever we find it. Action must now be taken at every level to stamp it out. We can all do our bit, and now is the time to do it.