Harassment in the NHS

‘Black and ethnic minority staff’ in the NHS are more likely to be subjected to abuse, harassment and bullying than their white counterparts according to a data and a new report released by NHS England.

The report “NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES)” shows the results of the experiences of black and ethnic minority staff, and white staff from the 2015 staff survey at every NHS trust across England.

We find these findings are deeply worrying for a society that prides itself on being multicultural.

We applaud NHS England for the transparency that they are showing by releasing this data as this is the first time that this report has been published, but hope that they now recognise that more needs to be done to protect their workers.

The report highlights that ethnic minority staff suffer an overall worse experience that others in the NHS, they are more likely to face harassment and more likely to face disciplinary action – it’s also clear that this harassment is not only from patients, but also from colleagues and NHS management.

The NHS now has a huge job ahead to stamp out all harassment and discrimination, as no employees (either inside or outside the NHS), no matter what their background, should face this treatment.

It’s also worth noting that numerous studies show that where healthcare staff feel valued and respected, patient outcome is improved, suggesting that where staff are harassed and/or bullied patient outcome will suffer.

As well as a legal requirement, there is a huge moral and professional obligation on the NHS, as provider of healthcare services in the UK, to set the best example for how staff are treated. The NHS need to invest in a programme of training internally to help eradicate the problem, they should also try to ensure that black and ethnic minority staff are represented in senior positions in the NHS to help develop a positive culture of diversification, which in turn would help to reduce the alleged differential treatment.

If they get this right for staff, they get it right for patients too. 101 different nationalities are represented in the NHS and that’s something to celebrate, but we can only celebrate it when everyone has the same overall experiences and career paths.

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