Nurses walking through corridor

The Royal College of Nursing calls for action against racism in the NHS

New research has found that a possible race-related promotion bias is currently present within the health sector, with white nurses almost twice as likely to get promoted than some of their counterparts.

The study, conducted by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), polled around 10,000 staff and revealed that 66% of White respondents aged 35 to 44 had received a promotion, whereas only 38% and 35% of Asian and Black respondents had been promoted respectively, within the same age bracket.

The RCN’s biennial employment survey also revealed that Black respondents were more likely to report having experienced physical abuse than any other ethnic background in both hospital and community settings.

Registered nurse, Olanike Babalola, said: "I've experienced a lack of promotion several times. When I was doing my top-up degree, I did management of diabetes at level six. Since then, I’ve been looking for an avenue to work as a diabetes specialist nurse. I’ve applied three times and done interviews and it’s got to the point where I don’t bother anymore.

"Although I’ve got so much knowledge, I’m not given the opportunity to put that knowledge into practice. You find that they give the opportunities to the White nurses, rather than to you. It’s actually racism, discrimination."

It’s for these aforementioned reasons that the Royal College of Nursing is calling on the government to better tackle racism in health settings via its planned reform of human rights legislation.

They are also calling for the Covid-19 enquiry to explain why so many ethnic minority nurses died during the pandemic and any structural reasons to be included in the report.

RCN Diversity and Equalities Co-ordinator Bruno Daniel added: “The pandemic has shone a spotlight on structural racism in health and care services and we must seize this opportunity to stamp out this vile behaviour once and for all.

“The UK government and devolved administrations must properly acknowledge and address this problem and the devastating impact it has on Black and minority ethnic staff and patients.”

The RCN have got a cultural ambassador programme, which aims to ensure nursing staff from minority ethnic backgrounds are treated equally and fairly in the workplace.

More information about the RCN’s call to action is available here.

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