Wider EDI awareness needed

Racial inequalities exist in healthcare and are alive within the physiotherapy sector

Manessa Faal
Manessa Faal is a MSK physiotherapist in the NHS, a CSP steward, and also works privately as a veterinary physiotherapist

Manessa shares her experiences at work, which have highlighted the need for training about equality, diversity and inclusion – and for support systems to be in place – to empower staff to challenge racism and voice concerns.

Equality, diversity and inclusivity (EDI) was a key feature of 2020 and real change is taking place.

It’s heart warming to see how involved and proactive people are in changing the narrative.

As part of the CSP’s Welsh steward network, I attended the recent Let’s Tackle Racism training.

One of the actions from this was to return to our workplaces and find out what they were doing to tackle these issues, and how the CSP could support members.

I talked with a senior manager, who was unaware of any training beyond the mandatory equalities training and suggested we discuss it further with the teams.

I also asked about unconscious bias training, explaining that I had previously challenged what I perceived as colleagues’ unconscious bias and perpetuations of racist myths and stereotypes. 

A recent conversation where a colleague argued that one such misapprehension (surrounding pain perception of different racial groups) was ‘true and backed up by research’ left me feeling shocked.

I shared my feelings with the senior management team, explaining how upset I was, and that I felt there was little acknowledgement of these issues initially and a lack of understanding that they are not only problematic but clear examples of racial inequalities that we’re working to eradicate.

I left work that evening despondent, thinking they were all ignorant of racial inequalities, white privilege and unconscious bias and questioning whether to go back. But I decided to tackle the situation head on.

I emailed the management team detailing my concerns that the situation was handled poorly and that it highlighted the need for training. I said I felt unsupported not only as a BAME member of staff, but also as a CSP steward tasked with facilitating the EDI strategy.

I’ve been well supported by our senior negotiating officer with the CSP, who has helped facilitate discussions to address the issue. We are now working together with senior management on a resolution and a robust EDI strategy for my workplace.

This is not an isolated incident. As a profession we must embrace the challenge of eradicating racial inequality, with training and awareness, and calling out racism. 

  • Manessa Faal is a MSK physiotherapist in the NHS, a CSP steward, and also works privately as a veterinary physiotherapist 

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