Senior NHS staff told to study 'white privilege' and 'not be defensive' in anti-racism blog

3 September 2021, 18:29 | Updated: 3 September 2021, 18:37

The blog post has been directed at white people on the NHS Leadership Academy's website.
The blog post has been directed at white people on the NHS Leadership Academy's website. Picture: Alamy

By Sophie Barnett

White people working in the NHS have been given "anti-racism" guidance in a blog post on the official health service's website, where they have been told to study their "white privilege" and "not be defensive".

The post on the NHS Leadership Academy website, named 'Dear white people in the UK', shares five tips directed solely at white people to help them be more inclusive in the workplace.

In the tips, published by Aishnine Benjamin, the equality, diversity and inclusion lead at the Nursing and Midwifery Council, white people are told "this isn't about you" and not to "take offence".

Her first piece of guidance says to "not be defensive", adding "everybody is at a disadvantage when our formal institutions perpetuate inequalities".

She then goes on to say that ignorance isn't an excuse, and that white people should "work on their empathy".

"Discrimination is dehumanisation and the only way to see a person as human is to empathise with them," she urged.

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Other suggestions penned by Ms Benjamin include being open to hearing what black and minority ethnic people are saying.

She said you would be hard pushed to find a black or Asian person that doesn’t have a personal story of racism.

The post initially singles out white people for the advice, but later moves onto addressing everyone and sharing racism research.

The nursing and midwifery lead also called out leaders, saying: "Diversity isn’t a fun to have it’s a must have."

Most people have reacted positively to the post, however it has come under fire by the former minister Sir John Hayes MP, who reportedly slammed the guide as "woke nonsense".

Earlier this year, a 264-page report by the Commission on Race and Ethnic disparities found overt racism persists in the country, particularly online, and more work still needs to be done.

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The full report made 24 recommendations among other findings calling for key goals of building trust, promoting fairness, and achieving inclusivity for ethnic minorities to be achieved.

In the foreword of the full report, chair Dr Tony Sewell CBE said Britain is no longer a place "where the system is deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities."

"The impediments and disparities do exist, they are varied, and ironically very few of them are directly to do with racism," he writes.

"Too often ‘racism’ is the catch-all explanation, and can be simply implicitly accepted rather than explicitly examined.

"The foreword goes on to say the authors "do not deny" that racism is a "real force" in the UK.