COVID-19: Protecting BAME staff

Dear Member of staff,

Following on from our recent staff update communications, we are writing to you individually because we know that many of our staff from BAME backgrounds are anxious about the potential increased risks if you contract COVID-19.

We understand how worrying this can be and we want to do all we can to ensure you feel safe at work. This week, we met with representatives from the trust’s Celebrating Cultures Network to discuss what more we can do to support you.

Nationally, an inquiry has also been launched to understand why people from BAME backgrounds appear to be disproportionately affected by coronavirus.

Whilst we await those findings, we are taking a number of steps at Western Sussex Hospitals to keep you, and in turn your family, safe. These include:

  1. Enhanced risk assessment. There is a new risk assessment form and our guidance has been updated. We are asking line managers to have conversations with all BAME colleagues, as they would for all staff identified as vulnerable; considering colleagues’ ethnicity as a potential risk factor.
  2. FIT testing support. All BAME colleagues who need to be FIT tested will be supported and PPE Patient Safety Officers are available to offer expert advice. Please be reassured we have adequate PPE supplies.
  3. Please raise concerns. If you have concerns or need extra support, please let us know. It is important for you speak up and talk about how you are feeling. We hope you are comfortable sharing your concerns with your line manager, but if this isn’t the case we urge you to speak to someone else. The following people are always there to help you:

HR Advice line on ext 84831 or email wshnt.hradvice@nhs.net
Members of our Equality, Diversity and Inclusion Team, including Nikki Kriel (nikki.kriel@nhs.net) and David Clayton-Evans (david.clayton-evans@nhs.net)
Freedom To Speak Up Guardians who can be contacted by emailing Freedomtospeakup@nhs.net

The updated risk assessment form, links to wellbeing support and dedicated pages for our Celebrating Cultures Network are all available on StaffNet. If you are interested in joining the Celebrating Cultures Network, and supporting your BAME colleagues, please do email celebratingcultures@wsht.nhs.uk.

Thank you for your ongoing hard work and contribution during this difficult time. You are a valued member of our community and we are committed to doing all we can to support you.

Yours sincerely

Dame Marianne Griffiths
Chief Executive

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