A new tool to fight racism

20 September 2021

Unite in Health launched its new black, Asian and ethnic minority (BAEM) education resource at a virtual event on 22 June, with more than 200 people attending.

The event featured experts delivering workshops and interactive Q&As. Topics included bullying, harassment and racial discrimination in the workplace; the experience of BAEM health and social care workers during Covid-19; and the NHS Race and Health Observatory project.

Feedback from participants was very positive. Comments included: ‘The examples [were] very helpful and the legal advice invaluable’; ‘The event was not only brilliant and informative, there were lessons to be learnt and it demonstrates we have a long way to go still’; and ‘What an excellent initiative, and great to see that the launch included a wide range of health sector representatives. I hope we can pick up some of the many brilliant questions and points made at the meeting.’

The resource explains various issues, ranging from fundamentals, such as defining racism, to practical day-to-day concerns such as how racism affects professionals, teams and employers. It will be a vital tool in ensuring those in the sector are sufficiently informed to understand, recognise and treat people with the respect they deserve.

It was made possible thanks to Jackie Williams, Unite’s national officer for health, who highlighted the need for the resource to be developed, and supported the editorial team throughout the creation process.

The resource was written by Ethel Rodrigues, Unite lead professional officer (education and Ireland), Pamela Shaw, Bradford District Care NHS Foundation Trust’s workforce safer staffing specialist nurse, and Janet Taylor, public health nursing manager at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust. All three were on the panel during the launch.

Janet described it as ‘a really useful and vital resource’ for Unite reps and members ‘to shine a light and understanding of inequalities in the workplace within BAEM communities’. She added: ‘Unite in Health is leading the way within trade unions in producing this document and seeks to challenge and support members who suffer racial abuse.’

The resource includes helpful bullet-point guidance on a number of race-related issues: steps to take on how to raise concerns; methods of tackling and challenging racism in the workplace; ways of managing unconscious bias; guidance on accessing training and making a successful training and development request; and advice on how to manage health worries.

Enhancing equality

Finally, the resource features a series of recommendations to move the conversation around racism forward, with general advice on how to enhance equality. Quoted in the resource, Devesh Sinha, lead stroke consultant at Barking, Havering and Redbridge NHS Trust, said: ‘Like most doctors of colour, I have experienced insults, micro-aggressions, racial gaslighting and, to put it frankly, prejudiced violence. My experiences may be the norm for all trainees and senior doctors and may be something we never talk about openly. When exciting opportunities come along, one is told that we only need the best people, implying bias – that with my colour such excellence is inconceivable.’ 

To obtain a copy of the Unite in Health BAEM education resource, members can email [email protected] to request one. As always, you can also give feedback on the journal, talk about work projects or how practice is going by tweeting us @CommPrac, or emailing [email protected] 

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