Opinion: Combat health inequalities by embracing individual values

Tue 06 June, 2023
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A PhD student from the University of Bedfordshire has penned an opinion piece for the Nursing Times about equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) within healthcare services.

Rohit Sagoo, Founder and Director of British Sikh Nurses, has been studying for his PhD with the University’s Institute for Health Research (IHR) since 2021 – the same year in which he was crowned winner of the Royal College of Nursing’s Leadership Award, following his work raising awareness of organ donation amongst the Sikh community.

In 2022, he was also nominated in two categories at the Nursing Times Awards in recognition of his community work with minority groups.

Rohit was asked to write this guest article for the Nursing Times after consulting on an anti-racist policy for a nursing organisation. Read the full article here.

‘To combat health inequalities, it is essential to embrace individual values'

Recently, the principles of EDI have taken centre stage in healthcare – and particularly in nursing. Although the profession is often viewed as noble and compassionate, it is not immune to the pervasive issue of one threat to EDI – racism.

Racism manifests in various forms, from subtle biases and micro-aggressions to systemic inequities that disproportionately affect nurses from minority groups. It is imperative to shed light on this critical issue, acknowledge its existence and take proactive steps to combat it.

The Nursing and Midwifery Council’s guiding principles state that nursing and midwifery is a non-judgemental profession, so why are nurses who have judgemental thoughts and commit judgemental deeds actively employed in the profession? This stance may be strong, but such nurses should be removed from the profession. Period.

As we develop into a global workforce, the nursing profession must adapt to the diversity of patient populations, healthcare systems and nursing teams worldwide. Embracing the individual values and the diverse perspectives of our multifaceted workforce is essential to combat health inequalities and promote social justice. This includes promoting educational opportunities for aspiring nurses in underrepresented groups, ensuring fair recruitment and employment practices, and advocating for policies that support diversity integration in the profession.

Organisations like British Sikh Nurses (BSN) are crucial to advancing EDI in nursing. BSN’s dedication to promoting inclusion showcases the power of grassroots initiatives: by providing support networks and educational opportunities, by advocating for equal opportunities, BSN empowers Sikh nurses to flourish in the profession. It supports individual nurses and contributes to a more diverse and inclusive nursing workforce that benefits both the NHS and the patients it serves.

‘Equality’, ‘diversity’ and ‘inclusion’ are not just buzzwords; they are principles that can unlock the full potential of all areas of nursing practice. By supporting organisations like BSN, the NHS takes great strides towards building a nursing workforce that truly represents the communities it serves. When nurses are supported, valued and empowered, they become catalysts for change, driving innovation, delivering patient-centred care and improving outcomes by working together for the betterment of the profession.

Achieving EDI in a global nursing workforce is not only critical, but it is also a moral imperative. By embracing cultural competence, breaking down barriers, fostering international collaborations and advocating for social justice, nursing can lead to more-equitable and inclusive healthcare systems. Through collective efforts, we can build bridges across cultures, challenge biases and create an environment in which every nurse feels that they are respected, supported and empowered.

By championing EDI, we can improve patient outcomes, enhance job satisfaction, foster innovation and shape a nursing workforce that genuinely represents and understands the diverse needs of our global society.

For more information about studying a PhD with the University of Bedfordshire, visit the Research Graduate School.


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