The British Minority Ethnic Nurse and the Future of the National Health Service in England

Monday, 11 July 2016
Location: Hörsaal 10 (Juridicum)
Distributed Paper
Beverley BRATHWAITE, Univesity of Hertfordshire, United Kingdom
The history of black Caribbean women coming to the British ‘mother land’ to work is interwoven with the National Health Service (NHS) in England. From post war to the 1960s (Many Rivers to Cross n.d.; Olwig, 2007) to today British minority ethnic (BME) women including those British-born still choose to nurse in the NHS and hold enduring presence in the modern NHS. The narrative of the BME female nurse in the 1970s and1980s (Lee-Cunin, 1989) observed that the Black nurse experienced overt racism and lack of advancement. Gendered stereotyping of the black women also had its part to play.  By the late 1990s Iganski and Mason (2002) discovered the demise of the black nurse of Caribbean origin due to under representation. In the 21st Century their continues to be inequality of treatment compared to white nursing colleagues and an awareness of equal opportunities at work in relation to legislation falling well short of the reality (Dhaliwal and McKay, 2008; Rogers 2014).

What is needed now and in the future for the NHS and BME nurses is for initiatives such as the Race Equality Action Plan (DH 2004) that acknowledges BME nurses ‘skills are often underused’; the BME network continues to offer support to BME staff including nurses, NHS England and the NHS Equality and diversity council to be seriously utilised when planning strategically and locally to make real changes in the culture of the NHS and to focus on workforce discrimination and race inequality more overt, and consistently deem this as unacceptable and is dealt with appropriately. This will then demonstrate to black British born Caribbean or any other BME women to continue to choose nursing as a career, that they can flourish and move within at all levels of nursing equally. Providing quality care for patients.