Warning: Invalid argument supplied for foreach() in /home/nclexion/public_html/wp-content/themes/jnews/class/ContentTag.php on line 47
It feels like we have reached one of those turning points in history, in this case one that has been coming for a long time, and that very much includes health and care.
Anti-racism protests taking place across the country and worldwide, as part of the Black Lives Matter movement sparked by the killing of George Floyd, have supplanted Covid-19 in the news.
The two are connected in some ways, of course, as research on coronavirus has indicated that people from black, Asian and minority ethnic backgrounds are at greater risk of severe illness and dying from Covid-19, and not necessarily because of underlying conditions.
“The health and social care sector has its own, well-known and ongoing problems with racism”
Concerns have also been raised that people from BAME backgrounds are overrepresented in the Covid-19 death toll among NHS staff. BAME nursing staff have felt they have been placed in more risky situations than colleagues and had less access to adequate personal protective equipment.
The health and social care sector has its own, well-known and ongoing problems with racism that reflects wider society in many ways, though with its own unpleasant subtleties and complexities.
It can come in the form of direct insults or abuse from colleagues, managers, patients or their relatives, as well as indirectly through bias in promotion or disciplinary situations – the latter indirect factors almost certainly related to the reasons BAME staff have felt more at risk from Covid-19.
A survey by Nursing Times and Unison in 2019 revealed that a shocking two-thirds of nurses had observed racial discrimination or disadvantage that affected someone else in the last 12 months and nearly half had experienced it personally.
Earlier this year, the latest Workplace Racial Equality Standard (WRES) report revealed that, among other things, the percentage of BAME staff experiencing harassment or bullying or being personally discriminated against was at an all-time high.
This week, the Nursing Times website features a column by Sunny Sander-Jackson about her own very personal experiences of microaggressive behaviour as an Asian woman, and another by Yasmin Khanagha, one of our Student Nursing Times editors, on why we need to open the conversation about racism (please have a look if you have the time).
It would be remiss of me not to highlight some of the progress that has been made in recent years. For example, the WRES itself was set up in 2015 to actively monitor the situation and we have an impressive – if too small – group of nurse leaders from BAME backgrounds.
On that note, I would like to wish Yvonne Coghill, NHS England’s WRES director, who has led the programme since its creation, a happy retirement in September. Her contribution on this agenda has been immense. I have been lucky enough to share the stage with her at the Nursing Times Workforce Summit on two occasions and have seen her drive and determination first-hand.
Racial discrimination or disadvantage is something that I and all at Nursing Times have sought to call out and condemn wherever and whenever we can, and it is unfortunately a topic that I have felt the need to write about regularly in this column.
The Covid-19 crisis and Black Lives Matter have placed the issue of racism firmly in the spotlight. I hope that real change can be one positive legacy and that, in future, Nursing Times will be able to write more often about how things are changing for the better. The challenge will be to maintain that focus and momentum. This is something we must look to do as one.