Yesterday it was reported that a white nurse has won a whistleblowing case for complaining that her black colleagues were being given much more work than their white counterparts.
The white nurse, Jeyran Panahian-Jand, who was working on the children’s ward at Whipps Cross Hospital in east London, also observed that her black colleagues were paid less. Managers asked her not to continue raising the issue because she was upsetting colleagues. However, she refused to let it drop – and the case went to tribunal.
Whipps Cross Hospital Trust had tried to cover up the management’s wrongdoing; however, the excellent intuitive employment judge Sarah Moor saw right through the façade and ordered the institutionalised racist organisation to pay the nurse £26k compensation.
This is what systemic racism is – and it’s a reality that most black nurses face day in, day out at work and also in their personal lives. Black nurses are acutely aware of the discrimination but we just get on with it because, despite an often hostile, oppressive and unkind environment, we genuinely love our job and we love to care for others and provide good patient care. Black nurses traditionally have grown accustomed to working harder and having to try that little bit extra to be accepted by our colleagues – and sometimes our patients.
Sadly our nurse colleague Jeyran Panahian-Jand was victimised and suspended after raising legitimate concerns about institutionalised racism. We are proud of her for speaking out and hope that other white nurses who see similar injustices will use their privileged positions within the institution to also speak out and help to stamp out racism.
Racism today is not what it used to be.
It has changed and evolved. Racism is no longer someone wearing a KKK hood and galloping on a horse with a torch or name calling. It is more like a malign presence across the NHS, where Black and Brown nurses are experiencing racism and hostility which often feels like a predator that treats us with disdain. Racist colleagues often prey on black nurses who are usually passionate about the care they deliver and support they give their patients.
When a Black or Brown nurse attempts to speak up, they are misrepresented, called names like “angry black woman” and accused of being aggressive. The prospect of speaking out against discrimination can lead to depression, oppression and trauma. Some of the nurses supported by Equality 4 Black Nurses have found themselves suddenly reported to top management for being poor team members after speaking out about how they feel.
Some racist employers go as far as reporting Black nurses to the NMC spitefully as punishment. This is of great concern and the NMC has sadly revealed that in 2020 Black and Brown practitioners usually had their cases referred to them by employers and over half of them were dismissed with no case to answer.
It is common knowledge that within the top paying roles across the NHS or the more desirable roles within nursing practice there is very little representation for Black nurses.
The senior management landscape is very white, while Black and Brown nurses are over represented in high numbers in less well-paid roles and lower banded positions.
It is obvious that a brick wall has been constructed which stands in the way of Black and Brown nurses seeking to progress to higher levels. The article published today has confirmed the institutional racism behind this.
I – myself a Black nurse – recently went for an interview and was not successful. This seems to be a common occurrence for Black nurses, who are are usually more than qualified and have the relevant experience. After several attempts it becomes disheartening.
I had applied to work in this same department once previously, without success. I felt I stood a better chance on this occasion because the department has no Black nurses. I felt that, considering the location is in a highly diverse London area, my colour would be a bonus.
Sadly, my application was again rejected. I decided to request feedback from the trust in an attempt to get feedback from the White lead nurse. I emailed twice in a space of three weeks and never received a response. So I emailed a chief nurse and an executive about my experience. Within 24 hours I got an apology and a response from this lady. However, she did not explain why she ignored my emails.
It is very interesting that during the height of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020, Whipps Cross splashed the slogan on their website and seemed to support the cause. I believe this is just paying lip service as their actions – as demonstrated in the tribunal case – actually support and uphold structural racism. NHS hospitals across the UK target black nurses unfairly and often abuse the NMC reporting process.
The law which says you mustn’t be discriminated against is called the
Equality Act 2010.
Discrimination which is against the Equality Act is unlawful. If you believe you may have experienced unlawful discrimination please reach out to Equality4Black Nurses so we can support and advice you on your options. Please don't suffer in silence because we are here for you.