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Are we doing enough for our BME workforce in nursing?

The combination of the COVID-19 crisis and the Black Lives Matter movement has belatedly thrown a spotlight on racial inequalities in the NHS, writes Julie Roye

As a black and minority ethnic (BME) nurse consultant, I inevitably come in to contact with various members of the BME community in Lewisham. When considering the question being asked by the British Medical Association (BMA) ‘Are we doing enough to protect our BME workforce?’, sadly my answer is: ‘Not enough!’ My view is that this question cannot be answered in isolation without considering the systemic deep-rooted barriers that affect the BME community in institutions generally.

This encompasses numerous inequalities and unequal starting blocks that confront BME people -— even before many are aware of their surroundings- —and this continues from childhood to adulthood. The slogan of ‘Black Lives Matter’ addresses current discriminatory practices, but it has to be more than a catchphrase. This awareness that ‘Black Lives Matter’ must go beyond reflecting on the inequalities that BME people have experienced in perpetuity in today’s society.

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