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Challenging the Cultures of Racism at Work in the UK's Healthcare Sector

11 Pages Posted: 1 Feb 2022

See all articles by Anandi Ramamurthy

Anandi Ramamurthy

Sheffield Hallam University - Centre for Culture Media and Society

Sadiq Bhanbhro

Sheffield Hallam University - Department of Nursing and Midwifery

Faye Bruce

Manchester Metropolitan University - Department of Nursing

Anil Gumber

Sheffield Hallam University - College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences

Ken Fero

Coventry University - Research Centre for Global Learning

More...

Abstract

Background: In UK’s health care sector, racism is rampant. It impacts Black and Brown staff working in NHS at all levels. We aimed to explore and understand the stories and experiences of Black and Brown health care staff during the pandemic and previously in their working lives.   

Methods: We conducted a questionnaire survey and qualitative interviews with Black and Brown nurses, midwives and other healthcare staff. 308 respondents completed an online survey, and 45 people participated in the narrative interviews. Interviewees were contacted through meetings organised with several BME health and social care professional networks and the survey. In total, 353 Black and Brown staff members participated. The Critical Race Theory informed the data collection and analysis of the study.

Findings: The study findings report that racism is prevalent in the health and social care sector, and it is usually unreported. Most participants worked during the pandemic and reported experiences of racism before and during it. Our survey findings revealed that 52.6% of the Black and Brown staff experienced unfair treatment in the pandemic concerning Covid deployment, PPE or risk assessment provision. Similarly, 59% had experienced racism during their working lives, making it difficult to do their job; thus, 36% had left a job. Most participants reported that exclusion and neglect as a form of bullying were among the most widely recounted experiences that took a toll on their lives; for example, 53% said racism had impacted their mental health.

Interpretation: Our research underscores that the endemic culture of racism is a fundamental factor that must be recognised and called out. Colourblindness exacerbates racist practices. We argue that only implementing an active zero tolerance to racism policy with penalties for organisations that do not comply can change the status quo.

Funding Information: This work was supported by the Arts and Humanities Research Council, UK [AH/V008714/1, 2020].

Declaration of Interests: All authors declare no conflict of interest.

Ethics Approval Statement: Ethics approval was obtained by Sheffield Hallam University Research Ethics Committee.

Keywords: racism, nurses, midwives, Covid-19, Black Lives Matter

Suggested Citation

Ramamurthy, Anandi and Bhanbhro, Sadiq and Bruce, Faye and Gumber, Anil and Fero, Ken, Challenging the Cultures of Racism at Work in the UK's Healthcare Sector. Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=4023214 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.4023214

Anandi Ramamurthy (Contact Author)

Sheffield Hallam University - Centre for Culture Media and Society ( email )

Sheffield
United Kingdom

Sadiq Bhanbhro

Sheffield Hallam University - Department of Nursing and Midwifery ( email )

Sheffield
United Kingdom

Faye Bruce

Manchester Metropolitan University - Department of Nursing ( email )

Manchester
United Kingdom

Anil Gumber

Sheffield Hallam University - College of Health, Wellbeing and Life Sciences ( email )

United Kingdom

Ken Fero

Coventry University - Research Centre for Global Learning ( email )

Coventry
United Kingdom

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