Letters Institutional racism

Lack of support for staff to combat racism

BMJ 2014; 348 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g1716 (Published 25 February 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1716
  1. Robin J Warshafsky, GP/deputy medical director
  1. 1Integrated Care 24, Ashford, UK
  1. robin.warshafsky{at}nhs.net

I am currently managing an incident where a nurse in a nursing home requested, on behalf of a resident, a white doctor to attend the resident out of hours.1 All our telephone contacts are recorded. It was chilling to listen to an Asian nurse identify herself during the conversation as unsuitable to enter the resident’s room to do a finger prick blood glucose test. Our doctor, who is also South Asian (although this not discernible from the telephone conversations), advised her that she would have to ask a white nurse.

The most nefarious aspect of this is how the nurse was co-opted into being complicit in furthering this resident’s discriminatory agenda. Even more worrying was her lack of empowerment and support from the care home’s management to resist becoming complicit. I can only imagine what this newcomer to the country, who was providing an essential service in a needed area, thinks of the indigenous population and the lack of structures in place to protect her from racism.

I agree with Ahmad that this is how genocide starts and why he considered this incident in relation to developing attitudes in German society at the beginning of the Nazi era.2 I have plotted a course of action to deal with this, but would be interested in any suggestions.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;348:g1716


  • Competing interests: I am Jewish.


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