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How Many More Reports Do We Need? Our view on The NHS Race and Health Observatory Review

Updated: Feb 27, 2023

A new review from the NHS Race and Health Observatory is out, observing inequalities in healthcare from the perspective of patients and staff themselves. It calls for healthcare leaders to look within their organisation, collect data from various services, and make policies based on this data to reduce the health inequalities we as Black and ethnic minorities in the UK face.

This has been a long-standing issue that we are all too aware of. Numerous documented examples personally and known to the media highlight the trauma of racism. It was on 11th November 2020 that the Human Rights Committee released a report on “Black people, racism and human rights”. It revealed that a whopping 75% of Black people do not believe that their human rights are protected. It was aware that the death rate for Black women is 5x higher than White women in maternity care. It called for people in positions to make tangible actions. What was interesting about this report was that it was released via social media at 00:48hrs. At a time where many people would be asleep.

This very action speaks volumes. The report was released and only made recommendations, meaning leaders don’t have to act on it, and many didn’t respond to it. Then came the Commission on Race and Ethnic Disparities 2021 report that attempted to contradict decades of evidence and research around race and racism in the UK. In March 2021, this report was commissioned in response to the Black Lives Matter movement that took hold of the world in the summer of 2020. This report concluded “there was no structural racism in the UK, there was overt prejudice”. This report ignited anger across the country.

In response, various government officials distanced themselves from it. Prominent names referenced in this report were not aware their work was used to smear the pain and suffering we face. However, once again Black people were not surprised. It was only in 1999 that the Macpherson Report, which highlighted racism within our police force after a young Black man was killed by a group of White racist men, was released. In 2021, police force continued to deny that there was racism, despite the disproportionate use of stop and search on Black and Brown men by police. Despite evidence of harsher punishment for Black and ethnic minorities in comparison to White people.

When it comes to healthcare, we as healthcare staff see all these examples. Our very lives are impacted from birth until we die, in every walk of life. So, everything is always going to be about race. We experience racism from our colleagues and patients in many forms. What we see is a link, people in positions of power who know of racism that is happening and turn a blind eye - not their skin colour, not their problem. They support baseless accusations made to regulatory bodies, they call police on us to prolong our suffering and make it even more traumatic for us.

What more data is needed? How many more reports are we going to see? In 2016, a nurse died by suicide due to an independent investigation concluding a Trust disciplinary process against them was weak and unfair. What we all saw was racism as a factor in the treatment of this nurse. We see a trend of nursing unions who wholly fail the people they are meant to help. We have very senior nurses using nepotism to appoint the wrong people in positions, then scapegoating others strategically to take the blame. Our nursing regulatory admitted the disproportionate referrals made to them and many are thrown out with no

case to answer.

So, again, we ask, what more data is needed and how many more reports are we going to see before significant change is made that stops the suffering and racial trauma Black and ethnic minorities face as NHS workers and patients? Stop minimising and dismissing our pain, stop benefitting from institutionalised racism, and start changing things.

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The very serious function of racism ... is distraction🤔

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