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How to deal with racism in the NHS : a quick guide

Today we look at various ways Black nurses and healthcare professionals can stamp out and fight against daily racism and discrimination in the workplace. Racism within healthcare is still way too common. Black, Asian and other non white workers are more likely to be subjected to unfair and disproportionate disciplinary procedures and often have limited access to career progression than their white counterparts. In addition, despite the NHS employing a high proportion of Black, Asian and other non white workers, they are hardly represented at senior levels of the NHS. This has been highlighted in many reports and studies, including The Snowy White Peaks of the NHS report back in 2014 , and more recently the WRES report published last year, but nothing has been done to address the discriminatory culture within the NHS which is creating disadvantages to Black, Asian and Non white staff which ultimately filters down and impacts patient care and their outcomes.

Some race equality experts believe that the purpose of these reports is a clever way to shut us up and encourage us to accept that these behaviours are the norm. In a nutshell, Some would call this lip service.

Equality 4 Black Nurses takes an action focus based approach and we will demand Equality, accountability and an end to race discrimination within healthcare.

After all, the NHS belongs to ALL OF US. In the meantime, here are a few ways to support yourself and colleagues to improve workplace well-being in predominantly white environments.


It's highly likely they are the problem - its not you

If you think you are experiencing racism, then chances are you are and this can have a severe emotional effect on your well being. Often it's very difficult to speak up and here at Equality 4 Black Nurses we understand the complexities of such conversations.

Give us a call or drop us an email where we can advise you on how to start these uncomfortable conversations. It's important to find a good friend or relative to speak with for moral support and it's very important not to internalise what you are going through or blame yourself.

Some staff members or senior management might try to make you think you are inventing things or overreacting but you should not accept their narrative or let them bully and harass you. They often use phrases like, 'you are too sensitive, get a back bone or just get over it.

As a Black Nurse, you are entitled to be the judge of what constitutes racism because you will have experience in it. Staff members, including senior managers use the technique called gaslighting and is a common detraction that perpetrators of racism often use. They may accuse you of having a 'chip on your shoulder' or accuse you of 'playing the race card'. Again, these phrases are often said to silence you in an attempt stop you from speaking out thus putting an end to their racist behaviours and their privilege. It's important to remember that the perpetrators of race discrimination usually benefit from the inequality which is forced onto you. Often they have reached the top of their game usually by putting you down. Once the perpetrators put you down they often see you as a lower citizen and treat you accordingly.

If the above resonates with you or sounds familiar, please give us a call or drop us an email

We will offer a listening ear and our trained experts can help you to demystify the situation and decide on an effective course of action. We carry out a simple root cause analysis which usually identifies the issues around how you are feeling.

Challenge racist behaviour

If you are experiencing racist behaviours or see something that you deem as racist, discriminatory or inappropriate and you feel confident enough to discuss it, speak to a manager about it and follow this up with an email note confirming the conversations in addition to completing a datex report.

Some behaviours within the workplace such as name calling , abusive language and mimicking have been used so often that the racist behaviors become normalised and we get used to it. Eventually the racist language will not sound or feel offensive to some. However, take note of this and always document the behaviors. The issues may not be addressed or tackled accordingly, however a record of the incidents may be relied on later should you decide to raise a grievance. As most Nurses know all too well..... If it's not written down or documented then it didn't happen.

We support workplace training with an Equality4blacknurses anti-racism awareness toolkit Equality 4 black nurses have commissioned the writing of a diversity toolkit as a pick and mix resource that will promote cultural awareness and provide significant insights to diversity issues including the legislation and case studies. Our pioneering ground breaking toolkit will support Health care environments to identify race discrimination which will lead to better outcomes to Black, Asian and Non white staff. Our toolkit will help raise awareness about problematic behaviours within the workplace and also provide useful tools to tackle racial biases.

Join us and talk

We offer weekly zoom sessions for you to meet other Black nurses who are going through various challenges. Joining our zoom sessions can also be a great opportunity to share your own experience about racism and get things off your chest. if you are feeling confident to talk about it come and share your story. If not you can just be present.

Equality 4 Black Nurses takes an action focused approached We demand Equality within Healthcare

Listen to the experiences of other Black Nurses Sadly, as racism within healthcare is far from being uncommon, it is highly likely someone else will have experienced racism in a similar way you have. Listening to other nurses’ experiences of racism will help you feel less alone in your personal situation as well as giving you the inspiration and motivation to keep fighting against the oppressive system you are part of. Equality 4 Black Nurses are creating a series of podcast which will hopefully amplify the voices of Black nurses. The podcast includes real life experiences from Black, Asian and non white nurses and support workers who share their personal experience of direct and indirect race discrimination. We will have our expert panel join in our podcast who will provide some excellent recommendations on how to address microaggressions, biases and gaslighting within the healthcare system. We are excited about the launch of our Podcast and we will let you know when we launch later this year.

Barriers to reaching the Snowy white peaks of senior management

Senior staff at higher levels with the organisation are the ones who have more power to change things for the better when it comes to racial injustice within the health Service. Unfortunately, Black, Asian and non white healthcare workers are way under-represented at higher levels proving that it is more difficult for people from those backgrounds to access management positions. However, if you are struggling to achieve promotion in your place of work, for no valid reason, you could be experiencing discrimination and this should be explored. You can call us or drop an email We will asses the situation and advise accordingly. Reach out to Equality 4 Black Nurses

Equality 4 Black Nurses was set up by Neomi Bennett BEM, a Black a nurse who’s experienced racism herself far too many times throughout her career and who decided to do something to help fellow Black nurses. Equality 4 Black Nurses is now a group of more than 1200 members, with access to lawyers who specialise in human rights and race equality, as well as culturally aware therapists who have expertise in trauma, intercultural perspectives. Equality 4 Black Nurses also run's a Zoom meeting every Tuesday evenings at 9pm where nurses and other healthcare workers can share their stories and experiences of racism at work. If you would like to get support from us please contact You can also follow us on social media via Twitter, Facebook and Linkedin. Sources Florence #NHS #racism #racismintheNHS #standuptoracism #blacknurses

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Leena Modha
Leena Modha

Equality4Blacknurses has empowered me to stand up to has helped me through a difficult period in my career when I felt isolated, frustrated and mistreated. Neomi has been an inspiration and a pillar of strength...I recommend anyone who is going through racism to seek help and fight with us to eliminate such terrible discrimination...xx

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