July 18, 2024

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Racism report was not suppressed, says Shropshire health body

3 min read

By Faith PageBBC Radio Shropshire • Chloe HughesBBC News, West Midlands

Getty Images Two healthcare workers walking in a corridorGetty Images

Shropshire’s Integrated Care Board (ICB) says there is an action plan to tackle the report’s recommendations

The organisation which plans NHS services in Shropshire has said it did not suppress a report on levels of racism experienced by staff.

It surveyed 156 people, 56% of them non-white.

79% of these stated racism among colleagues was a problem, and even more had experienced it from patients or their families.

“The report was not suppressed. That document has been mentioned at the board several times, so there’s been opportunities to work on this collectively,” said Vanessa Whatley, the ICB’s chief nursing officer and equality, diversity and inclusion lead.

“The report was aimed at finding out what was the experience and perceptions of our colleagues, in order that we could help. So the system, I would not describe it as racist,” said Ms Whatley.

The ICB later added that it acknowledged findings of problems with racism, but action was being taken to address these.

Ms Whatley said: “A summary of those actions, and what we need to take forward, will come at the end of June,” she said.

In May, campaigners accused health bosses of suppressing the report, due to the ICB not issuing a public response to the study after its completion in 2021.

“The action plan has been in development since before the final report was published,” she added.

The report also found that 85% of non-white staff said they had experienced racism from patients and their families.

Almost three-quarters said they were reluctant to report what was going on, for fear of retribution or inertia.

Listen on Sounds: The ICB answers questions about its report

Another senior NHS leader, Rhia Boyode from the Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, backed the board’s work.

“I think it’s actually the actions and the results of the actions that matter. And seeing our diverse workforce is, for me, above and beyond, because you don’t see that everywhere,” she said.

She accepted people who had raised concerns previously may not have felt that anything had been done, and therefore would not report issues again.

“For anybody who does feel that way, I think it’s so important for them to hear that there will be, and should be, no consequences for raising concerns,” she added.

Some people interviewed by the BBC had expressed fears the report would deter people from working in the area.

“We hope that through your reporting, that we can make sure that isn’t an outcome,” Ms Whatley told BBC Radio Shropshire.

“We’re really proud of our diverse workforce, and we see how examples of staff from different ethnicities are thriving every day.”

“We are thriving as non-white people in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin,” said Ms Boyode.

“What we want to make sure, is that we give hope to the people who look up to us. There are obstacles and challenges, but you can still thrive.”

“Things aren’t always easy, I’m really not taking away the fact that racism is difficult. We’re proud actually of how far we’ve come.”

“It’s very rare actually to see a black woman like me in an executive role in Shropshire, Telford and Wrekin. I’m very proud,” she added.

The ICB admitted that diversity on its board is lacking, and said that steps were being taken to address that.

The action plan will be shared at a board meeting on 26 June.

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