Minority staff in hospitals told to change names to ‘Western’ ones

·2-min read
NHS staff - Peter Byrne
NHS staff - Peter Byrne

Black, Asian and ethnic minority hospital staff were told to use “Western work names” because theirs were too difficult to pronounce, an inspection has revealed.

Workers at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust (UHBW), which runs the Bristol Royal Infirmary, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Weston General, were told by managers to “adopt” a Western-sounding name while at work.

The behaviour was revealed during an inspection by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and reported to the trust’s chief executive, Robert Woolley, in a post-inspection feedback letter.

“We were concerned to hear from staff that they have been told by line managers to adopt a ‘Western work name’ as the pronouncing of their name was too difficult. This is not acceptable, individuals can only truly thrive in a work environment where they feel safe as themselves and belong rather than having to ‘fit in’,” the CQC letter read.

Speaking at a board meeting following the inspection, Mr Woolley said managers may have made the comments to BAME staff members because they “think it’s funny, but it’s not funny”.

He added that the behaviour was “really quite concerning” and classed it as a form of “micro-aggression”. Mr Woolley also committed to putting together additional training and awareness programmes within the trust.

“Just to make absolutely clear, there is no management instruction around that – those are isolated reports the CQC were informed about by staff themselves,” Mr Woolley told the virtual meeting on July 29.

“We’ve been back to ask the CQC if they can give us more information about where that is happening. For confidentiality reasons they are unable to do so. But we have been looking in detail at this.

“I’ve made statements in my staff briefings that whatever the reasons are – people may think it’s funny, but it’s not funny. That kind of behaviour constitutes what we call micro-aggression, and cumulatively that just leaves staff feeling judged and unwelcome.”

The full CQC report is expected to be published in September.

It comes after data from the Medical Workforce Race Equality Standard report, published last month, found almost a third of BAME doctors in post-graduate training experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from staff in the last year, compared to around a fifth of their white counterparts.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said following the report: “This data highlights the enormous gulf between the experiences of ethnic minority doctors compared to their white counterparts and the unacceptable level of discrimination that continues to permeate the medical profession.”

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