NSFT vows to address culture of discrimination within trust

6:00 AM September 22, 2022

The region’s failing mental health trust has vowed to “own” longstanding issues with discrimination, which have been laid bare in stark figures.

Statistics have shown that black and minority ethnic (BAME) employees of the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust are 27pc more likely to be dismissed from their jobs than white staff members.

Of those who have been through disciplinaries at the trust, 43pc were ultimately dismissed – compared with just 16pc of non-BAME employees.

The stark figure is an example of a culture of discrimination that the trust has admitted to – and vowed to eradicate as it looks to recover from its latest failed Care Quality Commission inspection.

A report going before the trust’s board of directors today says: “Disappointingly, there are deep pockets of discriminatory, marginalising behavior widespread across the trust.

“This includes racism, sexism and homophobia.

“We do not yet have robust data on all types of exclusion and discriminating behavior, but we are clear our stance needs to challenge all forms of non-inclusive behavior.

“We are determined to name this and own it.”

The report also highlights that BAME employees at the trust have been twice as likely to have experienced some form of discrimination from a manager, team leader or colleagues.

According to most recent figures, one in five (20pc) BAME employees had experienced discrimination – compared with just 8pc of non-BAME staffers.

The same figures show that more than half of the trust’s BAME workers say they experienced harassment, bullying and abuse from patients, relatives and members of the public – compared with 29pc of white workers.

In an effort to combat this, trust bosses have vowed to “call out and stand up to” any such behavior and recognize the work of all staff members, regardless of their race or background.

It has also commissioned a London-based consultancy called Clever Together to help encourage staff to speak up about their concerns, through what it is calling ‘a big conversation’.

The trust will also be outsourcing its ‘freedom to speak up’ program to the Guardian Service, an independent provider of whistleblowing services.

Stuart Richardson, the trust’s chief executive, said it would be taking a “zero tolerance” approach to any form of discrimination.

“We are a team of nearly 5,000 people, committed to delivering high quality and safe care for the people who need us, their families and their carers,” he said. “Today, we take a stand against behaviors that are contrary to our values , and those values ​​of the wider NHS.

“Everybody who works at our trust has a part to play in creating an environment that supports our patients to receive excellent care and allows our staff to thrive and achieve their potential. We all have a duty to call out unacceptable bad behavior when we see it.

“To colleagues who have experienced it, I am sorry, and I promise we will do better.

“And I say to the small minority of people who think they can get away with it, that’s not the case anymore.

“We know culture change takes time and won’t happen overnight. It will take several years and it won’t be easy, but together we will unite to achieve this.”

But campaigners say the efforts are “too little and too late”, with complaints of this nature often raised with the group.

Campaign to Save Mental Health Services demonstrating at Hellesdon Hospital. Sheila Preston, Mark Harrison and Liz Pyne from the campaign. Pictures: Brittany Woodman
– Credit: Brittany Woodman

Mark Harrison, of the Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk, said: “The trust needs leaders who understand diversity. The figures show what we have been hearing from workers for a long time – that there is a culture of racism at the trust.

“This culture appears to run through the organization like Brighton rock so addressing it just can not be left in the trust’s own hands.”

The plans to address the issues will be discussed at the trust’s board meeting, which will be held at 12.30pm today.

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