Corby BAME doctors says racism is rising

Black and minority ethnic Northamptonshire GPs say they are facing an increasing level of racism while at work.

Wednesday, 16th October 2019, 1:08 pm
The problems with racism against healthcare professional was aired at yesterday's CCG board meeting.

The county’s two clinical commissioning groups have vowed to tackle the issue after GPs Dr Sanjay Gadhia, Dr Joanne Watt and Dr Miten Ruparelia, who all practice in Corby, spoke out about their personal experiences and the growing occurrences at the joint CCG board meeting yesterday (Oct 15).

Dr Watt said because of her surname, patients often assumed she was not of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) origin and some therefore thought it was fine to talk about race in a discriminatory way in front of her.

She said: “It seems to be OK to voice things that five years ago would not be acceptable and are still not acceptable.”

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Dr Watt said her Corby practice sent warning letters to patients who made racist remarks.

She said her Great Oakley Medical Surgery has a zero tolerance of racism policy and sends a letter to patients who make racist remarks.

Dr Ruparelia said it was an issue he discussed in his Woodsend Practice in Corby with staff but he was unsure of where to signpost colleagues who experienced racist remarks.

He said: “Like it or not it is becoming a problem. It will get worse rather than better.”

Dr Gadhia said he previously worked in Mansfield which had a high ratio of BAME staff and had a zero tolerance policy to racism and staff were given support.

Dr Gadhia said a previous area where he worked supported staff when racism occured.

The meeting heard there was not a standard policy in place in Northamptonshire health systems on how to respond to racism.

At the meeting other doctors spoke of their shock at the treatment their BAME colleagues were facing and said they had not realised the scale of the issue.

Corby GP Dr Nathan Spencer said he would also like to know how to better support patients who came to him having suffered from racism which was having an impact on their mental health.

Dr David Jones, chair of Healthwatch, which is an advocate for Northamptonshire health users, said: “What I hear is that the CCG and its members are all saying that they are experiencing an increase in references to race in a negative way on a level which we have not seen before.

“The NHS is utterly dependent on a diverse workforce and any negative comment is an attack on the service.”

The debate was sparked by the Workforce Race Equality Standard Annual Report, which all NHS CCGs have to complete.

The board signed off the report and chair Dr Watt said the matter was going to be taken forward for more consideration and action.