One in three black and minority ethnic staff at one of Derbyshire’s main health organisations have recently been hit with bullying, harassment and abuse from patients, according to a report.
Black and minority ethnic staff (BME) at Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust have also suffered three times as much discrimination from their own colleagues – including managers – than white colleagues.
On top of this, white staff are also three times more likely to be shortlisted for a job than BME colleagues – nearly double the rate from last year.
The ‘worsening trends’ have been highlighted by members of the trust’s board this month and in its September meeting report.
The trust, which oversees mental health care and support for patients with learning disabilities, has 2,500 members of staff – of which 13 per cent (around 325) are BME.
During this month’s meeting, Ifti Majid, chief executive of the trust, said that NHS staff encounter racism and abuse on a daily basis, but that it ‘often doesn’t get into the news’ unlike the case with footballers.
He said: “Staff are often faced with violence and threats of violence.
“Recently we are made aware of one patient who had requested for a change in care due to the colour of their skin.
“We need to be as clear as possible about how we handle racist abuse and what will face the people who abuse our staff.”
Also speaking at the meeting, Margaret Gildea, a non-executive director at the trust, said: “I don’t believe staff are setting to go and be racist or to discriminate – but what matters is how actions are being perceived by staff.
“Leadership is how it is perceived not as it is intended.”
Harinder Dhaliwal, head of equality, diversity and inclusion at the trust, said: “Change like this doesn’t happen overnight, there are areas for improvement.
“We have got a long way to go but we are already on this journey – but it starts with leadership.
Amanda Rawlings, the director of people and organisational effectiveness at the trust, said: “We have got to stand up now and do something about this quickly.
“There needs to be a step change in the NHS and we have to champion that.
“I spent the weekend in the Sherwood trust and I witnessed the most awful abuse of staff – I would have reached my limit. This is real.”
The trust’s report says that the gap between BME and white colleagues in terms of the amount of bullying and harassment they face from patients has been widening since 2016.
In a statement, Mr Majid said: “Derbyshire Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is fully committed to the principles of fairness and inclusion and being an equal opportunities employer.
“We work to champion the equal rights of colleagues and patients with protected characteristics and regularly analyse the information we have available in order to monitor our progress and identify any areas where we can develop and improve.
“Unfortunately we know that colleagues from a BME background continue to be disadvantaged in a number of areas and we are committed to addressing these issues to ensure that all colleagues have equal opportunities to work and progress throughout the organisation.
“We want all levels of our workforce to reflect the diversity of the communities we serve and we are increasing the training and awareness opportunities for all trust staff, to challenge issues of unconscious bias and ensure our teams and services are culturally inclusive.
“We have introduced a number of innovative schemes this year, to promote diversity, equality and inclusion.
“This includes a reverse mentoring scheme, delivered in partnership with the University of Nottingham, whereby the trust’s executive directors were paired up with a BME mentor.
“Directors met their mentors on a regular basis over a six-month period to share experiences, raise issues and discuss ideas about how the trust could be more culturally inclusive.
“This has been a positive development for the trust and we are looking to extend this programme over the next year to promote the views of colleagues with disabilities and long-term conditions.”
“We also know that a number of colleagues from a BME background continue to experience harassment or racial abuse from people within our care.
“This is wholly unacceptable and I have made a commitment to staff that this will not be tolerated within Derbyshire Healthcare services.”
Eddie Bisknell , Local Democracy Reporting Service