HARASSED, bullied or abused – these are experiences that, sadly, Asian, black or minority staff in the NHS en- dure as they go about their day.
Evidence from a survey last week of NHS workers makes depressing read- ing. For older Asian medical professionals who have worked in the health service for years, the latest findings just vindicate what many said for years and several studies and reports have corroborated. Racism and discrimination exist in the NHS and the low numbers of BME staff in senior or board positions point to what some say is a major institutional failure.
The irony is that the foundations of the NHS was built with Asian and black immigrants in the 1960s and 1970s. Many among them will not have progressed in their career only because of the colour of their skin.
Eastern Eye has previously reported about the lack of experienced staff at senior levels after the large numbers of Asian doctors and GPs hired four decades ago retired from the NHS.
The prime minister David Cameron has spoken of his Vision 2020 for minorities, an initiative to increase the representation of BAMEs in all walks of British life. Much more needs to be done to make this a reality and to attract top talent from the minorities.
As Britain’s population changes, so too will the challenges facing our public services. In the face of spending cuts, the NHS, like others, will have to adapt and innovate while keeping best practice a priority. From attracting the best trainees to nurturing and retaining top talent, the NHS needs to re think how it manages its workforce in order to get the best out of them.
Doctors, nurses and other medical staff routinely face critical decisions in their daily work – their morale will not be helped if they know their work will not be recognised, or that their chances of promotion are hampered because of their ethnicity. They put patient care first, and NHS bosses should endeavour to put the wellbeing and talent of their staff first as well.
A stressed out, demoralised work- force in the NHS does not bear think- ing about.