Intended for healthcare professionals


Don’t accept racist abuse, Hancock tells NHS staff

BMJ 2019; 367 doi: (Published 07 November 2019) Cite this as: BMJ 2019;367:l6425
  1. Abi Rimmer
  1. The BMJ

The secretary of health and social care in England has written to NHS staff to express his horror at the incidents of racial abuse that they face.

In a letter sent on 5 November, Hancock said that he wanted to send a clear message that this sort of abuse was unacceptable and would not be tolerated.1

“If you face abuse, do not accept it. If you see a colleague being abused, do not ignore it. If you know of an employee facing this, do not stand for it,” Hancock wrote. “The government takes a zero tolerance policy approach to dealing with racist abuse whenever it arises. Things should be no different in our NHS.”

Hancock also made reference to the case of the Blackpool trauma and orthopaedic surgeon Radhakrishna Shanbhag. Speaking to ITV News on 31 October, Shanbhag described how he felt after a patient had asked for a white surgeon instead of him.2 “It made me reconsider my position in the NHS because I thought, do I want to put up with this at this stage, after I have given my life, blood, sweat, and tears to the …

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