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Black nurses ‘petrified’ of being on front line of Covid second wave without proper protection

BLACK nurses are “petrified” by the prospect of being sent back to the front line of the coronavirus second wave without adequate protection or risk assessments, a support organisation said today.

A survey conducted by Equality 4 Black Nurses found that a third (32 per cent) were not supplied with adequate personal protective equipment (PPE) during the peak of the first wave.

The revelation coincided with medical journal the Lancet publishing a comprehensive analysis showing that black and Asian people are up to twice as likely to be infected with Covid-19 than white people.

Equality 4 Black Nurses’ founder Neomi Bennett said she was “deeply concerned” about safety over the coming months and that proper risk assessments had not been carried out to ensure the safety of workers from ethnic-minority backgrounds.

“There’s no support for the teams. A lot of the nurses are petrified,” Ms Bennett said.

The group also raised concern that stresses caused by the pandemic were “bringing racial inequalities to the surface.”

Its study found that 89 per cent of black nurses had experienced racial discrimination at work.

The survey’s 284 respondents commonly reported covert racism, lack of promotion and progression and “cultural inappropriateness.”

Ms Bennett also said that black, ethnic-minority and Asian nurses seemed to be the target of “scapegoating” and highlighted cases in which black nurses had felt disproportionately disciplined.

Cases included a nurse who was investigated after going to a shop wearing her uniform under her coat.

Data from the Nursing and Midwifery Council shows that 150 out of 242 referrals of black nurses to disciplinary boards in 2019-20 resulted in a “no case to answer” verdict.

Mohamed Jogi, national programme manager for diversity and inclusion at NHS Employers, admitted that more work was needed to “improve staff experience, inclusion and representation across the NHS.”

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