NHS racism hotline launched

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A UNION has launched a special hotline for NHS staff to report racist incidents after it revealed racist abuse was “an everyday occurrence”.

Announcing the new service, UNISON general secretary Dave Prentis said a recent survey of 2,000 black and ethnic minority members had revealed that 69% had suffered from racism at work.

The survey showed that 83% of those who had experienced racism had suffered verbal attacks, 9% had suffered physical attack, 61% of racist incidents were from patients, 39% were from managers, and 24% from members of the public.

“We want to banish all forms of racism from our NHS,” Mr Prentis said.

“We have people from all over the world working in our world-class health service. We believe they have a right to dignity and respect and protection from racism.”

One ambulance dispatcher commented in the survey: “The abuse is very upsetting and relentless. I wanted to do this job because it’s helping people and I care for people, but racist abuse is an everyday occurrence.”

Welcoming the new service, UNISON national executive committee member Eleanor Smith, a theatre nurse, said she had experienced racism at work herself when a patient refused to allow her to treat her because she was black.

“In my case it was dealt with swiftly and well by a consultant who made clear that if they refused to be cared for by me there would be no further treatment. But I know not everyone gets the support they need.”

Karen Jennings, UNISON head of health, said: “All NHS trusts need policies in place for dealing with racism at work. It should not be left to individual staff to make decisions about how to respond if a patient refuses treatment from a black member of staff, or if a member of staff is abused.”

She also called for any incidents to be reported to the police and dealt with by the law.

• The hotline number is 0845 3550845.

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