A woman working for Nottingham University Hospitals Trust has spoken out about her experience of racism, bullying and harassment at the organisation – and told directors that it is “still happening”.
Onyinye Enwezor told the trust’s board she felt she was discriminated against when applying for a more senior role at Queen’s Medical Centre in 2015.
The trust, which also runs Nottingham City Hospital, was told by the health watchdog, the Care Quality Commission (CQC) last year that there was “a culture of bullying” at the organisation, as well as inadequate leadership and incidents of racial discrimination.
During the ‘staff experience story’ part of an NUH board meeting on 27 January, Ms Enwezor told of how she has “personal experiences of bullying, harassment and racism” at the trust.
She said the trust is taking “baby steps” to address the issue – but urged the board to hold people to account for their actions.
Rupert Egginton, Chief Executive at NUH, thanked her for raising the issue and apologised.
Ms Enwezor, who is now Practice Development Lead for Clinical Leadership at the Institute of Care Excellence at NUH, joined the Queen’s Medical Centre in 2005 as a junior staff nurse.
Ms Enwezor said: “We are taking baby steps towards putting things in place but we still have a long way to go.
“With the new BAME strategy that has been launched and the cultural ambassadors, I think we will begin to see some changes.
“The culture has been like this for a while so I don’t expect it to change overnight, it is going to take time.
“It is about holding people to account. That is what I and most of the BAME staff find upsetting that people are not being held to account for certain actions that they have done.
“I have had personal experiences of bullying, harassment and racism.
“I am not going to shy away from it, it does happen and it is still happening.
“There are hotspots within the trust. There are some managers whose names are recurrent when you speak about bullying and harassment.”
She said allegations are being investigated.
When she joined the trust, she said it was a “nice and promising environment” – but as time went on, she noticed the students she mentored became her managers.
She said she “remained professionally stagnant due to discrimination and nepotism”.
She said: “My journey changed in 2015 when I applied for a role as a Theatre Lead at QMC. To my amazement, I never heard anything back.”
She said she was later told by senior staff that she had been “treated unfairly”.
Ms Enwezor is now the Chair of the BAME (Black Asian Minority Ethnic) Shared Governance Council, which was set up during the pandemic to support colleagues at NUH with concerns.
The council aims to ensure staff “feel their voices are being heard” and also acts to talent spot, retain and invest in employees.
Mr Egginton said: “We wouldn’t have that knowledge and experience within our organisation if you had thrown the towel in.
“We also owe you an apology for the way you were dealt with in the first instance. Please accept that on behalf of us all, because this shouldn’t happen.”