Background to learning
The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of making sure proactive support is available for those working within healthcare services, especially those identified as more at risk of COVID-19, such as colleagues from BAME communities, those in additional at-risk groups or other vulnerable individuals working across the system.
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust recognised the need to ensure the safety of those working in the trust and for comprehensive support offers to be put in place for BAME colleagues and at-risk individuals across the organisation.
Learning and advice to be shared
Gloucestershire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust committed to rapidly expanding its existing risk assessment processes to help ensure that all staff at higher risk were identified and cared for. The practical steps, outlined in NHS Employers guidance, were identified as being helpful in the maintaining of individuals’ safety and providing support where needed.
The trust have also recruited an equality diversity and inclusion lead to support this important agenda, and there is now a dedicated virtual network and safe space in which BAME colleagues come together.
Monthly equality, diversity and inclusion support calls have also been established to provide a safe space for culturally sensitive health and wellbeing support for all colleagues.
Following discussions at the CNO’s national Shared Professional Decision-Making Council on the 22 July 2020, council members discussed similar initiatives in their organisations. The council reflected on the use of diverse networks and the positive inclusion of colleagues from a wide range of other backgrounds. These networks can offer support using an ‘ally’ approach. Support leads are also noted as a positive role within organisations as they offer colleagues individualised support on topics that matter to them.
The council considered the importance of shared professional decision-making with these colleagues and local councils bringing together colleagues as peer support.
Would it be beneficial to retain these changes?
Council members agreed that the COVID-19 pandemic has placed a valuable renewed focus on ensuring equality and diversity is central to all workforce agendas. They have suggested that beyond COVID-19 recommended approaches to continue might be:
- Ensuring a safe and positive working environment for all staff, particularly those at risk of COVID-19, through appropriate risk assessments and health check support offers.
- Development of support networks tailored to meet individual staff needs and ensuring these are accessible to colleagues across groups within an organisation.
- Sustaining important work such as the Workforce Racial Equality Standard, work that will be led by the new Race and Health Observatory, and promoting a safety and learning culture through safe routes for staff to speak and be heard.
For further details on this case study or to connect with Asma, email england.1professionalvoice@nhs,net