London, October 2
Nurses allegedly tied a Sikh patient's beard with plastic gloves, left him in his own urine and offered him food he couldn't eat for religious reasons, a senior whistleblower from UK's top nursing watchdog has claimed.
In a dossier leaked to The Independent from the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), it was said the nurses were allowed to carry on working despite the man complaining about discrimination in a note on his deathbed.
The damning report stated that the nursing regulator has failed to address “institutional racism” in its ranks for 15 years, which has allowed NMC staff “to go unchecked” when “applying guidance inconsistently based on their own discriminatory views”.
The patient's family found his turban on the floor, out of his reach, and his beard tied up with rubber gloves, The Independent reported, adding that his case, which was initially closed by the NMC's screening team, is now being re-assessed.
The NMC staff members responsible for deciding whether to pursue an investigation failed to properly consider responses to the note, left by the patient and discovered by his family after his death, a source told the publication.
The note, written in Punjabi, claimed nurses had laughed at him, kept him hungry by only offering food which they knew he couldn't eat and did not respond to his call bell, causing him to wet himself and fall in his own urine.
The claims of “alarming” racism within the NMC was first raised in 2008. The documents reveal how Black and ethnic minority staff fear they will be exposed if they speak up about racism.
"The staff are too scared to report their concerns to the nursing regulator because of a 'culture of fear' within the watchdog," documents seen by the publication revealed.
Drawing parallels with the Lucy Letby case and accusing the NMC of being defensive and trying to protect their own reputation, the whistleblower claimed “deep-seated toxic conduct” within the watchdog is leading to "skewed and failed investigations".
Letby was sentenced this year for murdering seven newborn babies and attempting to kill six others while they were in her care.
She was arrested following a string of baby deaths at the neonatal unit of the Countess of Chester Hospital in northwest England between June 2015 and June 2016.
The regulator has launched an investigation over the revelations alleging racial bias in how it treats conduct cases against Black and ethnic minority nurses and patients.
“I'm so sorry that anyone has personally suffered or observed racism at the NMC. I want the NMC to be an anti-racist organisation and it's clear we've got a long way to go to achieve that," Andrea Sutcliffe, chief executive and registrar of the NMC, told The Independent.
“I know we don't get it right every time and we must learn when we make mistakes. It's imperative we now investigate all of the concerns raised with us and we are in the process of appointing external, independent experts to lead those investigations with care, with rigour and with full transparency,” Sutcliffe added.
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