Racism reported in Jersey's Health Department

Picture: ROB CURRIE. (37786534)

HALF of the 88 health workers who replied to a survey said they had experienced racism from patients.

A total of 54% who said they had suffered the abuse said they had reported it to their employer – but almost two-thirds were not satisfied with how it had been dealt with.

Although the survey saw people of ten different ethnicities take part, half of the respondents were white.

Washington Gwatidzo, racial and ethnic approaches to community health lead, said that 49% of those surveyed believed racism was still a problem in the Health Department.

Mr Gwatidzo presented the figures to the department’s advisory board on Thursday.

“In terms of psychological safety, people are sometimes not feeling safe enough, which impacts their ability to perform at work,” Mr Gwatidzo said.

“When an organisation is not willing to accept that it has happened, the opportunities for learning become challenging.”

Staff were also reluctant to report racist incidents, as they feared this would impact on their career progression, he said.

The Health Department is currently drafting an anti-racism statement, in which it promises to “go beyond the legal requirements for equality”, “tackle racism in our workplace”, and “see growth in diversity across the organisation at all levels”.

The statement adds: “We believe we must be proactively anti-racist, and this means every one of us standing up against racism or any discriminatory behaviour.”

Carolyn Downs, a non-executive director of the board, said: “The survey results were deeply shocking – I think we should record the fact that they are really shocking.”

She added that she endorsed the statement’s wording, but that “where we make a statement, we have to deliver against it”.

She asked for assurance from the board that they would actually pursue prosecution, as they are legally entitled to.

Chief officer for Health Chris Bown explained that posters were in place which made it clear that discriminatory behaviour would be taken seriously and that “care may be refused”.

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