Nursing Narratives: Racism and the Pandemic is an Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC) project funded under the UKRI Urgent Response to Covid-19 Call.
Black and Asian nurses, including those who have migrated to support our NHS, have made a critical contribution to health and social care.
Yet in the first month of the UK lockdown, 71% of nurses and midwives who died were from Black and Asian backgrounds.
In February 2021, with the UK still in its second national lockdown, a Public Accounts Committee (PAC) asked the Government to consider the “extent to which (and reasons why) BAME staff were less likely to report having access to PPE and being tested for PPE and more likely to report feeling pressured to work without adequate PPE.”
The following October, a Lessons Learned report recognised that the higher incidence of Covid amongst Black and Asian staff “may have resulted from higher exposure to the virus,” but there is little address to racism in the report.
Hundreds of healthcare workers participated in the study, to tell their stories of racism at work, both during and prior to the pandemic.
Our research indicates that most Black and brown healthcare staff do not see racism as individual, isolated behaviour but as a structural practice embedded in the institutional culture.
"Racism like a virus spreads and causes significant harm"
Black nurse manager
The pandemic exposed the level of inequality with devastating consequences. The nurses and midwives who participated in our study are the survivors of a pandemic and a system that is stacked against them. They demand an active zero tolerance to racism to be implemented in policy and practice.
Findings and outputs
The project launched on 5 March 2022, presenting the findings of our research and launched our feature documentary and 18 individual testimony films.
It also presents 'A Manifesto for Change' complied by nurses and midwives to ask for change in policy and practice.