Half of all ethnic minority staff in the NHS experience racial harassment at
the hands of their colleagues, according to research.
Focus groups working across UK health trusts found it is not just patients
that subject staff to abuse. Mike Collins, director of an NHS programme
tackling racial harassment, said too many staff now accepted abuse as
"part of the job".
The findings emerged from 35 focus groups examining the experiences of staff
over a 12-month period.
Collins, previously director of personnel for Northern Birmingham Community
Health Trust, said failure to tackle the problem could lead to Trusts being
unable to offer some services.
The London Ambulance Service is to undertake a major advertising campaign in
a bid to resolve recruitment problems.
It is looking to double the number of technicians it recruits this year and
wants to encourage more applications from ethnic minorities.
Collins said, "Senior managers have a key role to play in tackling
racial harassment. They must take the lead in making it clear that racial
harassment will not be tolerated in any form.
"They must lead by example, demonstrating and communicating their
commitment and challenging those who harass."
A previous study carried out in 1995 found 37 per cent of black and Asian
NHS staff were harassed by co-workers.
A further 58 per cent of Asian nurses said they were harassed by patients,
while the figure for black nurses was 66 per cent.
Collins added, "Equally, white staff should support their minority
ethnic colleagues and ensure that they do not themselves harass."
The Plan for Action to Tackle Racial Harassment aims to ensure a
zero-tolerance culture in the NHS. All NHS employers in England and Wales are
required to have arrangements in place to tackle racial harassment by the end
of this month.