We have all had to take a moment to absorb the distressing and truly awful recent events in America. The tragic death of George Floyd is a fierce reminder that unfortunately racism is a painful truth still very much in our world. The incident has left us shocked, angry, hurt and heartbroken.
Equality, diversity & inclusion is an important subject that we have considered carefully. Like everyone, we are reflecting and dealing with personal feelings and experiences on the issue of race and equality in our society. We do not want to be silent and this is something we cannot simply ignore.
It forces us to ask questions within ourselves and as an organisation about the impact of racism and discrimination, the ramifications of racist actions and the implications it has on our employees, registrants, partners and members of the public - especially those who are black and from ethnic minority backgrounds. We are consciously aware of its impact. This has highlighted the issue of discrimination and racial injustice as well as the need to stand up against it.
Racism and discrimination is a global issue. We must acknowledge that racism, discrimination and inequalities in various forms also happens in the UK. Racism and discrimination of any kind has no place in our society, and goes against our role in protecting the public.
Being silent on this matter only compounds the problem. As a regulator of health and care professionals we are conscious that we have a responsibility to use our influence and speak up in order for things to change.
Impact of COVID-19 on Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups
If we needed any further evidence of the inequalities in our society, the statistics published by Public Health England (Disparities in the risk and outcomes of COVID-19) act as a stark reminder. These clearly highlight the disproportionate impact that COVID-19 has had on people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) groups with death rates from this terrible virus highest amongst this group of people.
This coupled with recent events have heightened the strain currently being faced by the BAME community.
Our plan for equality, diversity and inclusion
We have been prompted to think about our organisation, our employees and registrants - what are we doing to tackle racism and discrimination and what are we doing to promote equality and diversity?
As an organisation we have been focusing on championing a better work environment and working lives, ensuring diversity and inclusion remains uppermost in everyone’s minds.
We have taken affirmative action to ensure a fair and inclusive working environment and have made Equality and diversity training mandatory. It is important for members of our organisation to be aware that we will never tolerate racial injustice and discrimination of any kind.
Our work on Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) is a key priority for the organisation including our Council. We have a commitment to being a fair and inclusive regulator. Our EDI action plan sets out our legal duties around EDI and the practical steps that we plan to take to implement this policy.
We intend that everybody should be equally able to access our services and be treated fairly and supported when doing so. Nobody should experience discrimination, harassment of victimisation when they interact with us.
Tackling racism and challenging discrimination
This is also clear in the Standards we expect of the health and care professionals on our Register. Our Standards of conduct, performance and ethics, for example, require all registrants to promote and protect the interests of service users and carers. This includes an expectation that they challenge discrimination. To not discriminate against service users, carers or colleagues by allowing personal views to affect professional relationships or the care, treatment or other services that they provide. Registrants must also challenge colleagues if they have discriminated against, or are discriminating against, service users, carers and colleagues.
Our standards also encourage registrants and members of the public to report any concerns about the safety and wellbeing of service users and support and encourage others to report concerns. We must ensure that we lead by example, and reflect these standards in all that we do.
This is only the start of the conversation and we acknowledge that as an organisation we need to do more. We need to keep learning and recognise the need for change.
We want to express our support for our black and ethnic minority registrants as well as our own staff and partner colleagues. Your voices, your lives, and your very existence in the health and care sector matters.