‘Ignorance isn’t an excuse’, NHS blog post on racism tells senior white staff
A woman walks past a sign reading “Thank You NHS” on the shoreline in Canvey Island, England. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
A blog post on the NHS Leadership Academy website has provided anti-racism tips, and advised white staff to read about white privilege, The Telegraph reported.
The post suggested reading an article on white privilege by the US activist Peggy McIntosh, followed by a discussion of “whiteness” in author Robin DiAngelo’s book White Fragility: Why It’s So Hard For White People To Talk About Racism.
According to the report, the tips on anti-racism including “don’t be defensive” in discussions about race and “don’t say ‘I’m not political’ to excuse yourself from this conversation.
The blog post also stated that ‘ignorance isn’t an excuse, as you can’t unsee what you have seen’.
White staff seeking senior leadership NHS roles are also urged to listen to the “lived experiences” of black and minority ethnic people, The Telegraph report added.
The guide, titled “Dear white people in the UK” has been written by Aishnine Benjamin, the head of equality, diversity and inclusion at the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC).
The academy trains medics and other NHS staff in the skills needed to apply for senior roles within the health service.
But the blog post was criticized by a former minister.
Sir John Hayes, the chairman of the Common Sense Group of more than 50 Tory MPs, said he would be writing to health secretary Sajid Javid to ask him to “investigate why this is going on” and ensure “not a penny of public money is wasted on this nonsense”.
“Of course, it is true that the people who are prejudiced and discriminatory are wrong, but the idea of attributing that to one group, defining people as either the oppressors or the oppressed, is deeply insulting to non-white people and just as insulting to white people,” he told The Telegraph.
The guide adds that people of all ethnicities should use their privilege for the benefit of humanity.
The blog post also recommends multiple literary works for staff to read on topics such as white privilege, the British Empire, the Windrush scandal and histories of race relations, the newspaper report added.
There has been a push by NHS bosses in recent years to tackle racism, with local NHS leaders required to report and monitor figures on ethnic minority inclusion in workplaces.
Andrea Sutcliffe, the chief executive and registrar of the NMC, told The Telegraph that it is committed to standing against racism or any other form of discrimination and want to support better conversations and understanding of these issues for everyone.
“That’s what this personal blog seeks to do, particularly in sharing a wealth of helpful resources,” she said.