Minority NHS staff told to use ‘western’ sounding names by line managers

·2-min read
The Bristol Royal Infirmary (Alamy)
The Bristol Royal Infirmary (Alamy)

Minority ethnic staff at an NHS trust were told to adopt more Western sounding names by their line managers because their real names were too hard to pronounce, according to the care watchdog.

In a letter to bosses at University Hospitals Bristol, the Care Quality Commission said the allegation was “not acceptable” and had been made by staff during an inspection of the trust in June.

The hospital’s chief executive Robert Woolley said this was not a management instruction to staff and said the isolated incidents made staff feel unwelcome.

The claim was made in a letter to the CQC which was discussed by the trust board in July.

The CQC told the trust: “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’.”

At the meeting of the trust board, reported by the Bristol Post, Robert Woolley told directors: “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’ve 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 microaggression, and cumulatively that just leaves staff feeling judged and unwelcome.

“We are putting additional training together. Our equality, diversity and inclusion manager is looking to launch that training and awareness in August, and we will send that trust-wide, and it will cover all those sorts of micro aggressive behaviours, as well as the inability to respect people’s given names.”

The CQC also raised concerns about safety of some of the trust’s building.

It said staff had sent the CQC photographs “of buckets and towels gathering water in a corridor at St Michael’s hospital and water coming in through the roof in main theatres of the Bristol Royal Infirmary.

“We were further told that St Michael’s also has leaking roofs in gynaecological and office areas.”

Mr Woolley said: “We know we have a deteriorating estate and backlog issues in certain areas, and of course that’s part of the capital plan that the board is aware of, as well to remedy those issues sustainably.”

A full inspection report by the CQC will be published in coming months.

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