One of our practical responses to Covid-19 has been to ensure that all relevant staff have completed risk assessments. Bev Thomas, divisional director of nursing for acute medicine, discusses further the importance of these being completed so we can all feel safe while at work, as well as the role of our Ethnic Minority Network in driving forward change to make our hospitals better places to work.
“In light of the current race related protests that were triggered by the unfortunate death of George Floyd (RIP), I'm proud by the candour of our organisation and open support from the Trust on all matters pertaining to workplace equity for all members of staff.
“My personal professional journey to senior leadership as an individual, woman and an ethnic minority has had its challenges, however I can assure you that they are small in comparison to the support, development, friendship and general sense of being respected as an individual over the years of working in our organisation. For those of you that do know me well, you would know that I am passionate about BHRUT as my place of work, and hope that my journey so far has been an encouragement to many that share the view that sheer hard work, determination, drive and a whole lot of passion for what you do, and love, will achieve your goals in the end.
“Thinking back on when I initially started working for the Trust in 1993, there was no acknowledgment that there were systemic issues, nor was there a safe space for having these challenging and understandably uncomfortable conversations in a meaningful and constructive manner. Today we are in open dialogue with all welcomed to be a part of the conversation and the solution.
“With a thriving Ethnic Minority Network and executive ownership and support, I am pleased to say our organisation is increasingly engaging with the Network to address the issues and concerns around equality and diversity across all minority groups.
“Our new ways of working and networking has made meeting up much more accessible and exciting, evidenced by the growing numbers of staff attending the different forums of ‘getting it right for our staff’.
“And with Covid-19 striking us, and in particular knowing the predisposition of the BAME community, I am pleased we are in a much better place, because healthcare has had to adapt and we have had to rethink how we look after patients and ourselves.
“As a Divisional Director of Nursing I have had to lead my teams through these adaptations and changes, and I have been very appreciative of the way staff have gone the extra mile to make the patients, their colleagues and themselves safe.
“As a BAME member of staff, acknowledging the predisposition of the BAME community to Covid-19 has led me to support and encourage our BAME staff to complete their risk assessments.
“I often get asked “Why? Why should I do/ get it done?” Well, it's to ensure that with the now known predisposition, as an organisation we can better support you to identify and act upon any significant underlying risk to ensure you are protected and feel safe in the working environment.
“Some of the data from the risk assessments may lead to initiatives that further support other BAME staff proactively as we all learn how to work and live with our invisible enemy.
“Thank you so much for reading my blog - I appreciate being given the opportunity and voice to speak to my peers and colleagues across the organisation ... in fact as evidence that you got my message, if you see me in the corridor or Costa queue, greet me with ‘Brilliant day Bev?’ and I will respond by saying "Tomorrow will be even better!"
“Until I blog again!”