Local NHS Trust, Southern Health is taking the opportunity of Black History Month to celebrate, educate and share the progress it’s making in tackling racial inequalities in the NHS. The Trust is also planning a series of events to highlight the positive cultural and caring contribution of its BAME staff, who care for patients across Hampshire.
Paul Draycott, Southern Health’s Director of Workforce, Organisational Development and Communications, explained: “The past six months have been a turbulent time for everyone. The impact of the global COVID-19 pandemic, followed by the rise of the Black Lives Matter movement both in America and here in the UK have shone a light on the racial inequalities that still exist in our society today - all of which have had a profound impact on the NHS.
“Within Southern Health, we’ve been keen to take decisive action. In July, we spoke out about the less than desirable statistics that suggested colleagues from a black or minority ethnic background are recruited to our Trust at entry levels (Band 2 and 5) and then their feet are ‘superglued to the floor’ preventing genuine career progression for all but a few – and we are sharing our plan to tackle this.”
Equality and Diversity Lead, Sarbjt Birk and the newly appointed VoxPop Chairs and Allies.
The Trust plans to be fully representative of the local population of Hampshire and the Isle of Wight at all payment-banding levels within the next 4 years. Alongside this, the Director of Workforce, Organisational Development and Communications has personally committed to following up every incident of racism reported. The Trust are looking closely at new appointments to understand why interview panels we might not hire BAME candidates and they aim publish statistics on BAME recruitment and representation within the Trust the same we publish Director pay or treatment times.
Sarbjit Birk, the Trust’s Inclusion and Diversity Lead, commented; “We are taking a data led approach in our work on Inclusion, by setting priority projects. Already we have made progress in tackling Bullying and Harassment across the Trust, with a relaunch of policy, reporting procedure and a campaign led by our Vox Pop Staff Networks. We have also recently appointment Co Chairs for our Staff Networks”.
Siven Rugien, Mental Health Legislation Manager and one of the Co Chairs of the Trust’s BAME and Allies Voice of the People (VoxPop) Network added: “Southern Health is committed to looking after the wellbeing of all its staff and patients .The Southern Health Allyship programme and VoxPop Networks are part of it’s commitment and are integral to supporting our colleagues and our community. We really are ‘all in’ and we are all in this together”.
Sarbjit, who has been central to setting up the Allyship programme with the aim of ending discrimination in Southern Health, added: “I am so proud to have been a part of creating the programme. Allyship means speaking up against complacency and injustice while others remain silent. I am overwhelmed with the response. We currently have over 200 Allies and this is increasing monthly. We have also been approached run external sessions for system partners as part of our Black History Month celebrations.”
The Trust is also celebrating Black History Month with a series of staff events happening throughout October. From a live Mauritian ‘cook-along’ with Shelina Permalloo (who won BBC's MasterChef in 2012) to inspirational speakers such as John Ameachi, US NBA basketball star turned psychologist.
Paul Draycott concluded: “Black History Month is an opportunity for us to celebrate our staff, shine a light on inequalities facing our black and minority ethnic colleagues, to educate and to further bring the issue of racism and inequality to the forefront of conversations. I feel passionately that, as a Trust, we should use this opportunity to embed processes and behaviours that will ensure we are fully representative of the population we care for.”
To find out more about equality and diversity at Southern Health, visit https://www.southernhealth.nhs.uk/about/equality-and-diversity/.