Increase in BME staff bullying cases at Weston General Hospital

Weston General Hospital. Picture: Mark Atherton

Weston General Hospital. Picture: Mark Atherton - Credit: Archant

The non-white workforce at Weston General Hospital is growing – but so is the number who are bullied or harassed by patients or the public.

Rosalinde Wyke, who sits on the hospital's trust, said this is because there are more black and ethnic minority (BME) staff than in the wider population and 'their attitudes aren't necessarily as we would like'.

Some 18 per cent of staff at the trust are from a BME background, up from 11.4 per cent last year.

A workplace survey revealed 43 per cent of the 333 workers reported being bullied, harassed or abused by patients, relatives or the public, a 15 per cent rise in a year.

Over the same period, the number of white staff experiencing such issues fell from 37 per cent to 27 per cent.

Bullying between colleagues has declined overall but the workforce equality report says it remains 'unacceptably high'.

Human resources director Alex Nestor told December's Weston Area Health NHS Trust board meeting: "Bullying is an area of concern. We've increased reporting. We're pushing staff to report any incidents. We take it very seriously."

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Trust chairman Jeff Farrer said: "Where we have a small minority community the risks are higher. There isn't necessarily that same support network. We have a duty as an employer."

Non-executive director Ms Wyke said: "One of the challenges is a higher percentage of staff are BME than the wider population.

"The general population don't have the same exposure to BME staff. Their attitudes aren't necessarily as we would like.

"In the last census, the BME population was 2.5 per cent, now it's about 3.7 per cent, significantly smaller than Bristol and the wider area.

"The population's behaviour is influenced by that."

The workforce equality report also revealed it is 64 times more likely a white applicant would get a job if they were shortlisted than their BME counterparts - 20 times worse than in 2018.

Ms Nestor said there was an innocent explanation: "The figures look alarming. We've introduced a new system that narrows down who is applying. People who mass-apply aren't able to do that any more."

A trust spokeswoman said: "Since introducing a new online recruitment package this year, which is nationally recognised and equality tested, we have seen an increase in applicants living outside of the UK.

"Shortlisting is anonymised and applications from any candidates based in the UK or overseas who do not have the prerequisite English language skills, qualifications or experience do not progress to the next round of shortlisting.

"The trust is absolutely committed to creating a diverse and vibrant workforce.

"The numbers of (black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) colleagues employed by the trust is rising, with 20 per cent of our workforce now being from a BAME background."

A national pilot to improve BAME staff's experience will also be undertaken in Weston in the months ahead.