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The Lived Experience of a Black Nurse:Layla's Harrowing Tale of Disproportionate Actions, Discrimination and Injustice


In the healthcare profession, the dedication and resilience of Nurses are paramount. Yet, the lived experiences of Black Nurses often reveal a starkly different reality, marred by discrimination and inequity. 


This is blog post is based on the true story of Layla, a Black Nurse who faced harsh and disproportionate treatment whilst working in a British publicly funded NHS Trust.


A Typical Shift Takes a Dark Turn

On the 25th of April 2023, Layla began her shift at 7 AM and she was assigned to work in the Acute Medical Unit (AMU).


Layla was responsible for caring for six patients, including a 99-year-old man, Patient A, who had multiple health issues, including cardiac problems, dehydration and a history of falls. Despite the heavy workload, Layla diligently cared for all of her patients.


Patient A was on a strict fluid restriction regimen, and throughout the morning, Layla diligently monitored his vital signs. Around 7:30 AM, she observed that his blood pressure was alarmingly low. Layla promptly informed Dr Tim on the ward, who advised her to continue monitoring it. By 8:30 AM, Patient A's blood pressure had stabilised.


The Unfolding Crisis

At 12:50 PM, Patient A suffered a seizure, which a support worker witnessed. Layla immediately instructed them to pull the emergency buzzer, summoning a team of healthcare professionals. Concerned about the seizure, Layla felt that Patient A higher level of care and shared this information with the Nurse in Charge. However, the Nurse in Charge dismissed her suggestion, stating there was no need to transfer the patient. Still uneasy, Layla discussed her concerns about fluid overload of Patient A with a doctor, who advised her to continue administering the prescribed fluids.


Layla continued to work her shift with no concerns or changes to her patients. In the late afternoon Layla was asked to escort another patient to the X-ray department as the shift progressed. Upon her return, at around 5 PM, she was preparing medications when the porter informed her that Patient A was on the floor.


Patient sitting on the floor
Patient found on floor

Layla and the porter quickly attended to Patient A, finding him alert and sitting upright without visible signs of injury. However, Layla's instinct and immediate visual assessment indicated something was wrong. She could see that Patient A was about to "go off" again; a term nurses use to describe when a patient is about to faint, become unconscious, or have a seizure.


Recognising that Patient A was on the verge of having a second seizure, Layla immediately instructed the porter to assist her in safely lifting Patient A from the ground into his bed.


The Tragic Turn and Immediate Blame

Despite their best efforts, just moments after being placed back in bed, Patient A suddenly had a second seizure. An emergency crash call was made, and within minutes, a team of Doctors and Specialists arrived.


crash team trying to resuscitate patient A
Doctors and Specialists attend to Patient A

The area was crowded with healthcare professionals working frantically to help Patient A. Unfortunately, at 6.15 PM, Patient A passed away. As Layla realised that Patient A had died, a wave of devastation and sorrow washed over her. She felt an overwhelming sense of grief for the loss of her patient, someone she had diligently cared for throughout her shift. The weight of the situation pressed heavily on her chest as she replayed every step and decision in her mind, desperately trying to understand what more she could have done.


Layla needed support and understanding from her colleagues and the NHS organisation to cope with her grief. A compassionate word, a listening ear, or even a brief moment of solidarity could have made a significant difference.


However, the atmosphere quickly turned hostile.


The Nurse in Charge of the shift suddenly arrived at the bedside with a stern face, ushered Layla into the clinical room and began shouting, bombarding Layla with multiple questions and implicitly blaming her for the patient's sudden downturn.

It was at that stage Layla's confidence and trust in the fairness of her workplace were shattered, leaving her feeling vulnerable and deeply wronged.


Unjust Accusations and Suspension

Rumours spread quickly among the staff through phone calls and personal meetings, painting Layla as the one to blame and even inventing a new allegation regarding her probity. This led to a hostile environment throughout the shift where colleagues gossiped, whispered behind her back, and turned against her. The situation triggered a domino effect. The porter, now fearing repercussions, distanced himself from Layla, emphasising to his colleagues and the Nurse in Charge that Layla had instructed him on every action and interaction with Patient A further isolating her and deepening the hatred she faced.


Unbeknownst to Layla, her colleagues had already judged her guilty without hearing her side of the events. They began treating her like a criminal, isolating her and spreading rumours. This hostile environment made it clear that she was being scapegoated, with her peers turning against her based solely on assumptions and bias. The atmosphere of mistrust and prejudice further entrenched her isolation and distress.


tirade of blame and passive-aggressive probing
Treated like a criminal

By the end of the shift, Layla was diligently writing her notes and updating Patient A's care plan, trying to process the tragic event she had witnessed. Instead of receiving support after the loss of her patient, with whom she had formed a strong bond, she was abruptly interrupted by a Senior Nurse. In a passive-aggressive manner, the Senior Nurse informed her that the Nurse in Charge of the shift wanted to see her in the office.


Layla reluctantly entered the Manager's office, where the Nurse in Charge was waiting for her with three Senior Nurses. They all began a tirade of blame and passive-aggressive probing. She tried to defend and explain herself in the meeting, but none of the senior colleagues were interested, and Layla was not heard. The Nurse in Charge of the shift interpreted Layla's explanation as aggression, so proceeded to call security, who forcibly escorted Layla from the hospital building. Layla felt embarrassed and dehumanised.


Layla was suspended and a few days later was notified of the following allegations: 


  1. Denying that a patient had fallen

  2. Not escalating a patient fall to the nurse in charge or medical team

  3. Not completing post-fall protocols to maintain patient safety

  4. Falsely documenting events following the cardiac arrest

Terms of Reference
Terms of Reference created by the Head Nurse

The Aftermath: A Life in Ruins

Layla was suspended and instructed by the Head of Nursing of the NHS Trust not to come to the hospital. She was also banned from speaking to any colleagues and warned that she would face punishment if caught communicating with anyone who worked for the Trust. She was excluded from any fact-finding process and was only asked to submit a statement, which she did.


Six months later, Layla was invited to attend a disciplinary hearing with a panel of eight senior staff members, including an HR Manager, Matron, the Head of Nursing, and the Nurse in Charge of the shift, who served as a key witness.


The 380-page disciplinary investigation report included statements from all the staff working on the shift. They meticulously constructed the report to fit their narrative and create a biased and distorted picture of the events. The truth, obscured by systemic racism, was hidden in plain sight for anyone diligent enough to read between the lines. 

Black Nurse standing before a kangaroo style court
Biased, unfair, and disproportionate disciplinary, ignoring standards of justice and fairness

Layla was found guilty as charged and subsequently dismissed, following a biased, unfair, and disproportionate disciplinary process that ignored recognised standards of justice and fairness. The proceedings seemed preordained, intending to reach a predetermined outcome. The decision to sack Layla was excessively harsh, especially considering the following factors:


  • The patient had an unwitnessed fall

  • The Medical Examiner's report did not connect the fall to the cause of death

  • Layla had an unblemished record with no prior sanctions, errors, or concerns throughout her tenure


Despite her exemplary performance and dedication, Layla was scapegoated in a situation where systemic failures and the actions of others were overlooked. This unjust outcome not only ruined her professional reputation but also highlighted the pervasive issues of racial discrimination and inequity within the healthcare system.


With her career in tatters, Layla, an International Nurse on a Tier 2 visa, faces significant barriers in securing new employment due to her dismissal from an NHS hospital for gross misconduct. This termination has severely tarnished her professional reputation, making it nearly impossible for her to find a new job in her field. Additionally, as an International Nurse, Layla's visa status is directly tied to her employment, putting her at risk of deportation if she cannot secure a new position. The stigma of the misconduct charge follows her, overshadowing her previously impeccable record and years of dedicated service. Layla's situation underscores the devastating personal and professional consequences of systemic racism and highlights the urgent need for reform in how similar cases are handled within the National Health Care system.


To add insult to injury, the Head of Nursing also referred Layla to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), alleging that she had breached multiple NMC codes of conduct. Specifically, Layla was accused of violating articles 1.1, 1.2, 1.4, 1.5, 7.3, 8.2, 13.2, 13.3, 16.1, and 16.3. This referral further compounded Layla's professional and personal distress, as it not only threatened her current employment but also jeopardised her ability to practice nursing in the future. The accusations and subsequent referral to the NMC painted a damning picture, intensifying the punitive actions against her and illustrating the systemic failings and discriminatory practices within the healthcare institution.




Kangaroo court NHS
Colleagues statement

The Broader Implication

Layla's story is a glaring example of the disproportionate and harsh treatment Black Nurses endure. Her experience highlights the urgent need for systemic change in healthcare. The sector needs to address and rectify the deep-seated racial biases that pervade the profession. The unjust treatment of Layla underscores the critical importance of supporting and protecting Black Nurses who face discrimination, ensuring that all healthcare professionals are treated equitably and fairly.


Black Nurse receives a referral to the Nursing and midwifery council
Head of Nursing referred Layla to the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC)

This harrowing tale calls for a collective reckoning and a commitment to fostering a more inclusive and just healthcare environment for everyone.

If any of the issues discussed here resonate with you or you are affected by our content, please contact us Matron@equality4blacknurses.com


Black nurses are suffering mentally and physically from racial trauma, and no-one is listening to our concerns. Equality 4 Black Nurses is challenging this racism.


We demand justice, we demand change and we will not be silenced. If you need our help in anyway, please get in touch with us via our website or our social media accounts or phone 0208 050 2598 and we will support you.



 

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Invitado
04 jun

When I was working in the ward I did not experience what Layla went through but some of the patients were do not really have anything good to say. Had to leave before anyone tarnished the good name I brought from my country. This is so heartbreaking.

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So sad what Layla is going through

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Invitado
28 may

Stresssful.

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Invitado
28 may
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

But what exactly did she do wrong??

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Invitado
28 may
Obtuvo 5 de 5 estrellas.

I am deeply ashamed of my country and the racism and injustices faced by talented Black nurses here.

I remain grateful to each and every Black nurse I meet who has made such sacrifices to be here.

My prayer will always be that, together we can make known stories of harmful injustices and make those guilty and complicit of racism accountable

Thank you for what you do, Equality4BlackNurses

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