Advice line - Racist attacks at work

Racist attacks on NHS staff seem to be on the rise. Saraka Keating offers advice on how to respond

The number of racist verbal and physical attacks in the NHS has risen by 65 per cent in the past five years, according to Freedom of Information data recently obtained by the BBC.

The largest numbers of incidents were reported in NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, and Leeds Teaching Hospitals, although it is possible that higher numbers in some trusts and boards could be explained by improved data reporting systems.

At those hospitals which offered a breakdown of incidents, there were 567 involving patients or visitors and 33 involving NHS employees in 2012 to 2013.

Although the figures are low when one considers there are 1.7 million staff who work in the NHS in the UK, even a single racist incident is one too many, and can be extremely distressing for the recipient.

Anecdotal evidence from the CSP’s own black and minority ethnic (BME) Network indicates that CSP members have at times been subjected to racial abuse at work.

A discussion was started recently on the iCSP BME network about concerns some black members have at the possibility of racist attacks on the streets when working in the community.

If you are subjected to any kind of racial abuse or have concerns about your safety at work, you should report this immediately to your line manager.

Racial abuse is considered gross misconduct, so employers are required to take all complaints seriously.

If, however, you are not satisfied with the way your complaint has been dealt with, you should raise it with your CSP steward or safety rep, who will have been trained to deal with this type of case and have information and resources to help them.

Whatever you do, don’t suffer in silence.  The CSP is here to support all members.

The CSP Equality and Diversity Toolkit contains checklists for both CSP stewards and managers on how to deal with racist behaviour in the workplace.

The CSP employment relations and union services department recently piloted an advanced training for stewards on Advanced Diversity Skills/Creating Positive Workplaces.

The CSP motion to next month’s TUC Black Workers’ conference is on the subject of discrimination against BME staff in appointments, but also includes a reference to the recent finding of an increase in recorded racist attacks.  Visit the Equality and Diversity page on the website

Saraka Keating, CSP national officer (equalities)

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