Accessing health and wellbeing support

According to Theodore Roosevelt “people don’t care how much you know unless they know how much you care”. This means that knowledge is not sufficient when it comes to being compassionate, as it is important that people feel like you care.

We must provide the best support for maintaining optimum health, wellbeing and safety for BME staff. This support must be accessible, inclusive, and culturally sensitive, with a greater understanding of current barriers to achieve this goal.

The issue is for leaders to understand and respond by providing an environment that protects all staff’s health, wellbeing, and safety. The health, wellbeing and safety of NHS staff is essential to provide the best service to our local communities.

A recent report identified that over 60% of BME people do not believe that NHS protects their health in the same way that it protects White staff. The impact of Covid-19 on BME communities has been disproportionately severe. The health inequalities of our BME communities reflects the experience of BME staff.

The proportion of BME NHS staff who have lost their lives to COVID-19 was significantly higher than white NHS staff. BME NHS staff still reports concerns about their safety, health and wellbeing in the Midlands. A recent engagement in the Midlands revealed that most BME staff (64%) stated that they did not feel safer following a risk assessment carried out by their managers.

Strategic recommendations to inclusive and compassionate health and wellbeing support

These recommendations are for short term goals for 3-6 months (S), medium term goals for 6-12 months (M) and long term goals for 12 months (L).

  1. Organisations must demonstrate that recommendations identified following risk assessments are put in place (as a priority, PPE and social distancing guidance are adhered to). (S)
  2. Organisations must demonstrate that staff from all protected groups that are disadvantaged have equitable access to health and wellbeing support*. (M)
  3. Where risks were identified but no appropriate action was taken, organisations should be held accountable at a regional level. (S)
  4. All organisations must be able to demonstrate that they are providing adequate support to their managers. (S)
  5. Organisations must devise a methodology for identifying gaps in knowledge and skills re cultural sensitivity and provide a plan to address any training gap. (M)
  6. Organisations must not lose sight of the range of individual needs under the umbrella term of BME, so intersectionality should also be considered. (S)
  7. Organisations need to demonstrate that managers are working in collaboration with OH, HR, Staff network leads, FTSU, Health and wellbeing leads to provide adequate support to staff. (S)
  8. All organisations must ensure that all staff have accessible information as stated in the national offer of health and wellbeing to use a wide range of communication. (S)
  9. Organisations and systems to ensure that flu vaccination information is available and accessible widely. (S)
  10. Organisations and systems to ensure that Covid vaccination information is available and accessible widely. (S)
  11. Systems and organisations need to develop a reporting mechanism to collate regular feedback about experiences of accessing health and wellbeing support from high-risk staff group (including bank and agency staff). (S)
  12. Where staff decline a Covid risk assessment, team managers need to determine why, record the reasons, and ensure follow up. (S)
  13. Managers to ensure that the process used in carrying out an assessment is transparent, open and supportive. (S)
  14. Managers to record concerns raised by staff, and when concerns are not addressed, they should be recorded and communicated. (S)
  15. Managers to identify any personal lack of skills, knowledge or support to carry out effective Covid risk assessments. (S)
  16. Where risk is identified but recommendations are not actioned, this is recorded and communicated to staff by all managers. (S)

*Organisations must not lose sight of the range of individual needs under the umbrella term of BME. This also means that consideration is given to intersectionality.