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.
With regards to the national COVID-19 pandemic, developments have shown that enough was not done to protect some of our NHS workforce. Sadly, this resulted in a disproportionate rate of deaths from COVID-19 in our NHS BME community. The endless discussion on lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) becomes disheartening. We now know this has a higher impact on the risk for the BME community.
A greater voice for BME staff