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NHSE director calls out trust over ‘speak English’ rule

An ‘outstanding’ London trust has come under fire for asking staff to communicate ‘only in English’ when around other people.

A document published under the ‘trust values’ section of Homerton University Hospital Foundation Trust’s website, says: “I will only communicate in English in the presence of others.”

The document has been widely shared on social media in the last 24 hours, with many criticising the trust for its wording. The document itself is dated 2014, but was reposted by the trust in 2019, and remained on its website as of midday today.

NHS England’s director of equality – medical workforce, Partha Kar, who is also NHSE’s diabetes lead, questioned the document on Twitter. He also said: “I am not aware of any NHS England ‘diktat’ suggesting we must all only speak in English to uphold NHS values.”

It follows a separate notice being posted on Twitter yesterday signed simply by “Matron”, by a doctor who claimed her friend saw it at her “hospital placement”. It seemingly threatened staff with “disciplinary action” if they spoke any other language other than English.

It reads: “English is the only language to be spoken in the ward area – this includes the kitchen. Disciplinary action will be taken against staff who do not comply, including agency and bank.”

The documents have prompted a backlash on Twitter, with many criticising them and raising concerns about racism and inclusivity of staff. NHSE’s chief nursing officer, Ruth May, has publicly queried where the document is from.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 16 March 2022


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