Hancock tells NHS staff to stand up to racist patients

Health secretary Matt Hancock  (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)
Health secretary Matt Hancock (Photo by Dan Kitwood/Getty Images)

HEALTH secretary Matt Hancock is urging NHS staff to stand up against racism.

In a letter to health workers, Hancock said “no one is entitled to choose the colour of the skin” of the doctor treating them. Patients who wants to be treated by a white member of staff must be told “no,” said the health secretary in a letter dated November 5.

“If a patient asks to be treated by a white doctor, the answer is ‘no’. Your management must and will always back you up,” he wrote.

Hancock penned the letter following the telecast of an ITV investigation that showed a surgeon revealed that a patient wanted him to be replaced with a white doctor.

Writing to NHS staff, Hancock said: “Like me, you may have seen the shocking testimony of Radhakrishna Shanbhag, a hard-working doctor who has committed more than 20 years of his life to the NHS.

“I want to send a clear message, from the very top of our health and care system, with the strong support of the entire national leadership of the NHS: this sort of abuse is unacceptable and we will not tolerate it.”

It is not immediately known if this will become official government policy.

According to statistics, there has been a 145 per cent rise in racist attacks on NHS staff over the past five years. An average of 6.4 per cent of NHS staff surveyed said they had personally experienced discrimination from patients, their relatives or members of the public.

There have also been instances of patients telling non-white staff and those from overseas to “go home.”