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Found 166 results
  1. News Article
    "Cultural and ethnic bias" delayed diagnosing and treating a pregnant black woman before her death in hospital, an investigation found. The probe was launched when the 31-year-old Liverpool Women's Hospital patient died on 16 March, 2023. Investigators from the national body the Maternity and Newborn Safety Investigations (MSNI) were called in after the woman died. A report prepared for the hospital's board said that the MSNI had concluded that "ethnicity and health inequalities impacted on the care provided to the patient, suggesting that an unconscious cultural bias delayed the timing of diagnosis and response to her clinical deterioration". "This was evident in discussions with staff involved in the direct care of the patient". The hospital's response to the report also said: "The approach presented by some staff, and information gathered from staff interviews, gives the impression that cultural bias and stereotyping may sometimes go unchallenged and be perceived as culturally acceptable within the Trust." Liverpool Riverside Labour MP Kim Johnson said it was "deeply troubling" that "the colour of a mother's skin still has a significant impact on her own and her baby's health outcomes". Read full story Source: BBC News, 16 February 2024
  2. News Article
    Deeply ingrained medical misogyny and racial biases are routinely putting people in need of treatment at risk, the government’s patient safety commissioner in England has warned. Dr Henrietta Hughes was appointed in 2022 in response to a series of scandals in women’s health. She outlined a “huge landscape” of biases in need of levelling, citing examples ranging from neonatal assessment tools and pulse oximeters that work less well for darker skin tones to heart valves, mesh implants and replacement hip joints that were not designed with female patients in mind. Hughes said: “I don’t see this as blaming individual healthcare professionals – doctors and nurses – for getting it wrong. It’s pervasive in the systems we have – the training, the experience, the resources. “Anatomy books are very narrow in their focus. Even the resuscitation models are of pale males – we don’t have female resuscitation models, we don’t have them in darker skin tones. This is deeply ingrained in the way that we assess and listen to patients.” She described the realisation that pulse oximeters, used to measure blood oxygen levels, work less well for darker skin tones as a “real shock to the system” when the problem was highlighted during the pandemic. More recently, the NHS Race and Health Observatory highlighted concerns about neonatal assessments. Bilirubinometers, widely used to assess jaundice in newborn babies, are less reliable for darker skin tones and some guidelines for the assessment of cyanosis (caused by a shortage of blood oxygen) refer to “pink”, “blue” or “pale” skin, without reference to skin changes in minority ethnic babies. The Apgar score, a quick test given to newborns that was rolled out in the 1950s, traditionally includes checking whether a baby is “pink all over”. “Even the names of those conditions – jaundice and cyanosis – suggest a colour. The Apgar score includes P for pink all over,” said Hughes. “There are systemic biases in that if you have a darker skin tone those conditions may not be so apparent.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 4 February 2024
  3. Content Article
    Sickness absence in the English NHS in 2022 was 5.6% – higher than the 4.3% rate three years earlier pre-covid, and totalling some 27 million days sickness absence. Moreover, 54.5% of staff reported they had gone into work in the previous three months despite not feeling well enough to perform their duties. This is a challenge for staff, managers, employers and occupational health services. Sickness absence measured and reported accurately can help identify trends that may assist with both understanding individual causes and preventing or mitigating sickness absence patterns by addressing their root causes. The NHS, along with many other public sector organisations, however, relies on a system of sickness absence measurement called the “Bradford Factor” which some suggest is counterproductive, without research underpinning and needs to be replaced. The Bradford Factor is a system which creates individual level, “trigger points” at which line managers consider investigation which may lead to disciplinary action to supposedly prompt improved attendance and referral to occupational health. The NHS’s over reliance on the Bradford Factor is potentially discriminatory and highlights the urgent need for a shift in how the service manages sickness absence, writes Roger Klein in this HSJ article.
  4. Content Article
    Left-handedness was historically considered a disability and a social stigma, and teachers would make efforts to suppress it in their students. Little data are available on the impact of left-handedness on surgical training and this report aimed to review available data on this subject. The review revealed 19 studies on the subject of left-handedness and surgical training. Key findings include: Left-handedness produced anxiety in residents and their trainers. There was a lack of mentoring on laterality. Surgical instruments, both conventional and laparoscopic, are not adapted to left-handed use and require ambilaterality training from the resident. There is significant pressure to change hand laterality during training. Left-handedness might present an advantage in operations involving situs inversus or left lower limb operations.
  5. Content Article
    This open letter penned by four senior female NHS doctors outlines the issues caused by ongoing misogyny in the medical profession in Wales. They call for real change to ensure that the trainees and medical students of the future do not experience the same harassment, inappropriate comments and bullying from senior colleagues that each of them can recall during their careers. "The four of us have risen to senior leadership positions in our respective specialties. We work in cancer, general practice, psychiatry and HIV medicine. And every single one of us can think of experiences from our own career that at the time we ignored, brushed off, pretended not to hear or not to see–but we saw, we heard, and we still remember."
  6. Content Article
    People with diabetes often encounter stigma in the form of negative social judgments, stereotypes and prejudice, which can adversely affect emotional, mental and physical health, self-care, access to healthcare and social and professional opportunities. On average, four in five adults with diabetes experience diabetes stigma and one in five experience discrimination due to diabetes in healthcare, education, and employment. Diabetes stigma and discrimination are harmful, unacceptable, unethical, and counterproductive. Collective leadership is needed to proactively challenge, and bring an end to, diabetes stigma and discrimination. To help achieve this, an international multidisciplinary expert panel conducted rapid reviews and participated in a three-round Delphi survey process. The group achieved consensus on 25 statements of evidence and 24 statements of recommendations. The consensus is that diabetes stigma is driven primarily by blame, perceptions of burden or sickness, invisibility and fear or disgust.
  7. Content Article
    An estimated 2.1 million people are living with Long Covid in the UK alone. The Conversation recently asked 888 people in the UK with Long Covid about their experiences of stigma, and 95% of them said they had experienced stigma related to their condition. On top of the physical symptoms, people living with Long Covid may have to contend with discrimination and prejudice within their communities, workplaces and even health services. Long Covid is a relatively new medical condition, and has been subject to lots of misinformation and minimisation of its legitimacy as a physical illness. To date, there have been no estimates as to how common stigma around long COVID is, which has limited our ability to tackle the problem. Being aware of numerous anecdotes of the discrimination Long Covid patients face, The Conversation decided to look into the extent of this problem and designed a questionnaire together with people who had lived experience of the illness. The questions aimed to estimate how commonly people with Long Covid experience stigma across three domains. “Enacted stigma” means being treated unfairly due to their long COVID, “internalised stigma” is where people feel embarrassed or ashamed of their illness, and “anticipated stigma” is a person’s expectation that they will be treated poorly because of their condition.
  8. Content Article
    Unconscious bias, which is deeply ingrained and often hard to recognise, impacts decisions in ways we may not realise. Implicit bias, shaped by repeated exposure to real-world interactions, also plays a significant role in this phenomenon. As such, in healthcare, intuitive decision-making can be a double-edged sword. It can help during emergencies but can also lead to discrimination and biases, especially in complex situations. In addition, hidden and automatic biases, which are further strengthened by unquestioned repeated practices, have a significant impact on daily healthcare interactions. Historically, gynaecology occupied a marginalised position within the realm of surgical care, often relegated to the status of a ‘Cinderella service’. This perception stemmed from societal attitudes and gender biases, which influenced how gynaecological surgeries were viewed in comparison with other surgical specialties. Gynaecology, being predominantly focused on women's reproductive health, was sometimes considered less prestigious or less prioritised than other surgical fields such as orthopaedic surgery or general surgery.
  9. News Article
    Health experts say more attention should be given to patients’ experiences after research found multiple examples of their insights being undervalued. A study led by the University of Cambridge and King’s College London found clinicians ranked patient self-assessments as the least important when making diagnostic decisions. Ethnicity and gender were felt to influence diagnosis, particularly a perception that women were more likely to be told their symptoms were psychosomatic. Male clinicians were more likely to say that patients overplay symptoms. The findings prompted calls for clinicians to move away from the “doctor knows best attitude” when caring for patients. One patient shared the feeling of being disbelieved as “degrading and dehumanising”, and added: “I’ll tell them my symptoms and they’ll tell me that symptom is wrong, or I can’t feel pain there, or in that way.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 18 December 2023
  10. Content Article
    This study in The American Journal of Surgery aimed to assess the impact of gender on imposter syndrome among surgical trainees. An online national survey was distributed to surgical subspecialty residents between March and September 2022 which included demographics, validated Clance Imposter Scale and a short questionnaire evaluating depression and anxiety. The study found that Women surgical trainees were found to be more affected by imposter syndrome, particularly frequent and intense imposterism. Risk factors found were being single, having no dependents, working in obstetrics and gynaecology and being a foreign medical graduate. The authors identified a need for residency programs to develop wellness curriculum to address imposter syndrome among all surgical trainees.
  11. Content Article
    National Voices is committed to tackling racial inequalities – in healthcare, health status, within their own organisations and across the charity sector. With unacceptable statistics, like Black women are four times more likely to die around pregnancy than White women, and Black babies are almost three times more likely to die than White babies – still now, in 2023 – the need for effective action could not be stronger.  
  12. News Article
    A health and social care minister privately said there was ‘systemic’ racism within the NHS and called for an investigation into it. Helen Whately told Matt Hancock of her belief in a private message which was today shown to the covid public inquiry. An inquiry hearing with Mr Hancock – who said he agreed with the point – was shown an exchange between Ms Whately, then care minister, and Mr Hancock in June 2020. The Guardian had reported the previous day that an internal report had found systemic racism at NHS Blood and Transplant. Ms Whately, who is now minister of state covering social care and urgent and emergency services, said: “I think the Bame next steps proposed are important but don’t go far enough. There’s systemic racism in some parts of the NHS, as seen in NHSBT.” She added: “Now could be a good moment to kick off a proper piece of work to investigate and tackle it.” Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 1 December 2023
  13. News Article
    A hospital that unnecessarily delayed a man’s surgery at the last minute because he had HIV failed in their care, according to England’s Health Ombudsman. The 48-year-old from Walsall, who does not want to be named, had been due to have prostate surgery at Walsall Manor Hospital on 10 March 2020. His surgery was scheduled to be the first of the morning. As he was about to enter the operating room, he was told that due to his HIV status his surgery would now be moved to last on the operating list that afternoon. The hospital claimed that this was due to the level of cleaning and infection control that would need to take place following his surgery to reduce the risk to others. However, the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman (PHSO), found that Walsall Healthcare NHS Trust acted inappropriately and failed the man. This is because the universal precautions that apply to all patients having surgery are enough to protect and prevent infections from spreading among patients and staff. Therefore, no additional cleaning should have been necessary. The policy of placing a patient at the end of an operating list usually relates to patients with a high-risk bacterial infection. It should not be applied to a person who has HIV and is receiving treatment. The Ombudsman also found that although the Trust had made some changes since this happened, they had not done enough to make sure the same mistake did not reoccur. PHSO recommended the Trust apologise to the man and create an action plan to stop this happening again. The Trust has complied with these recommendations. Read full story Source: Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman, 1 December 2023
  14. Content Article
    A substantial barrier to progress in patient safety is a dysfunctional culture rooted in widespread disrespect. Leape et al. identify a broad range of disrespectful conduct, suggesting six categories for classifying disrespectful behaviour in the health care setting: disruptive behaviour; humiliating, demeaning treatment of nurses, residents, and students; passive-aggressive behaviour; passive disrespect; dismissive treatment of patients; and systemic disrespect. At one end of the spectrum, a single disruptive physician can poison the atmosphere of an entire unit. More common are everyday humiliations of nurses and physicians in training, as well as passive resistance to collaboration and change. Even more common are lesser degrees of disrespectful conduct toward patients that are taken for granted and not recognised by health workers as disrespectful. Disrespect is a threat to patient safety because it inhibits collegiality and cooperation essential to teamwork, cuts off communication, undermines morale, and inhibits compliance with and implementation of new practices. Nurses and students are particularly at risk, but disrespectful treatment is also devastating for patients. Disrespect underlies the tensions and dissatisfactions that diminish joy and fulfilment in work for all health care workers and contributes to turnover of highly qualified staff. Disrespectful behaviour is rooted, in part, in characteristics of the individual, such as insecurity or aggressiveness, but it is also learned, tolerated, and reinforced in the hierarchical hospital culture. A major contributor to disrespectful behaviour is the stressful health care environment, particularly the presence of “production pressure,” such as the requirement to see a high volume of patients.
  15. News Article
    Three in five foreign doctors in the NHS face “racist microaggressions” at work, such as patients refusing to be treated by them or having their abilities doubted because of their skin colour. The widespread “thinly veiled, everyday instances of racism at work” experienced by medics trained overseas has been uncovered by a survey of more than 2,000 UK doctors and dentists. Almost three in five (58%) said they had encountered such behaviour, from colleagues as well as patients, although most did not report it because they thought that no action would be taken. Doctors affected can feel upset, humiliated, marginalised and not taken seriously as a result. The findings have raised fears that international medical graduates may choose not to work in the NHS, which is increasingly reliant on their skills given the service’s shortage of doctors. Dr Naeem Nazem, the head of medical at the medical defence organisation MDDUS, which acts for doctors accused of wrongdoing, said: “These findings show us that a worryingly large number of overseas-trained doctors working in the NHS face racist microaggressions in the course of their work, from both patients and colleagues, and that many do so regularly.” Read full story Source: The Guardian, 8 November 2023
  16. Content Article
    Medical defence organisation MDDUS's latest annual member attitude survey has found that many have experienced or witnessed persistent racist microaggressions at work. Almost two-thirds of International Medical Graduate members report they’ve been subject to racist microaggressions and have little faith in being heard and the issue being taken seriously. MDDU's 'We hear you' campaign aims to be a catalyst for positive change and help rebuild confidence in the way such abuses can be reported.
  17. Content Article
    A new guide to help health service trusts tackle racial discrimination in disciplinary procedures and promote inclusivity has been launched by NHS Providers.
  18. News Article
    Senior doctors say female medics have felt pressured into sexual activity with colleagues. Four women who head up medical royal colleges in Wales have written an open letter describing misogyny, bullying and sexual harassment in the workplace. They told BBC Wales that female staff had been asked for sex by male colleagues while on shift. The Welsh government said: "Harassment and sexual violence is abhorrent and has no place in our NHS." Chairwoman of the Royal College of Psychiatrists in Wales, Dr Maria Atkins, said: "I've heard from multiple women over the years that during night-time shifts, they've been propositioned by male colleagues and felt pressured to engage in sexual acts. "When they've refused they are penalised. "It can be very damaging to some less experienced or younger women, because they will be discouraged from engaging with a team, which might have been the specialty of medicine that they wanted to progress their career in." Read full story Source: BBC News, 22 September 2023
  19. News Article
    A mental health provider has apologised after telling a whistleblower he was being declined treatment due to an employment tribunal he had brought against a neighbouring trust. Andrew Wardley was among a group of staff who raised concerns over a major research project at The Christie, a prominent cancer trust in Greater Manchester. Dr Wardley, a leading oncologist, has claimed he was sidelined and effectively bullied out after raising legitimate concerns. He has brought an employment tribunal against the specialist trust. The ongoing case has caused him severe stress and anxiety, prompting him to seek psychological treatment with South West Yorkshire Partnership Foundation Trust, which runs services near his home in Huddersfield. He told HSJ an initial phone conversation with trust staff had been positive and ended with an agreement he would benefit from treatment with the Improving Access to Psychological Therapies team. But he subsequently received a letter from the trust, which said: “Given the ongoing litigation IAPT would not be in a position to offer any therapy". Read full story (paywalled) Source: HSJ, 20 September 2023
  20. Content Article
    Sometimes groups of patients who may not engage easily with healthcare services are labelled 'hard to reach'. This graphic by artist Sonia Sparkles highlights that there are barriers in healthcare that can prevent different groups accessing services—ranging from physical access needs to lack of cultural appreciation. These barriers are often created by healthcare staff and organisations who, when designing services, fail to consider the diverse nature of the population their services are for. A wide range of graphics relating to patient safety, healthcare and quality improvement is available on the Sonia Sparkles website.
  21. Content Article
    A recent report found that a third of female surgeons have been sexually harassed at work. In this opinion piece, Dr Liz O’Riordan speaks out about the abuse she suffered from male colleagues while working for the NHS. She describes her experiences, highlighting that incidents of sexual harassment are common amongst female surgical trainees who fear speaking out as it may affect their careers. She also draws attention to the fact that it is not just an issue amongst surgeons, but that many other healthcare professionals experience inappropriate sexual comments and behaviour while at work.
  22. Content Article
    For surgical teams, high reliability and optimal performance depend on effective communication, mutual respect, and continuous situational awareness. Surgeons who model unprofessional behaviours may undermine a culture of safety, threaten teamwork, and thereby increase the risk for medical errors and surgical complications. This article in JAMA Surgery aimed to assess whether patients of surgeons with a higher number of coworker reports about unprofessional behaviour experience a higher rate of postoperative complications than patients whose surgeons have no such reports. The authors found that  patients whose surgeons had a higher number of coworker reports had a significantly increased risk of surgical and medical complications. These findings suggest that organisations interested in ensuring optimal patient outcomes should focus on addressing surgeons whose behaviour toward other medical professionals may increase patients’ risk for adverse outcomes.
  23. News Article
    MPs will investigate the sexual harassment and sexual assault of female surgeons taking place within the NHS. BBC News reported women being sexually assaulted even in the operating theatre, while surgery took place. And the first major report into the problem found female trainees being abused by senior male surgeons. The Health and Social Care Committee said it would look into the issue and its chair, Steve Brine, said the revelations were "shocking". "The NHS has a duty to ensure that hospitals are safe spaces for all staff to work in and to hold managers to account to ensure that action is taken against those responsible," Mr Brine said. "We expect to look into this when we consider leadership in the NHS in our future work." Read full story Source: BBC News, 13 September 2023
  24. Content Article
    Research published in the British Journal of Surgery demonstrates that sexual harassment and sexual assault are commonplace within the surgical workforce and rape happens. This report from the Working Party on Sexual Misconduct in Surgery is a call to action, with a series of recommendations, for healthcare institutions to face up to the shocking reality of sexual misconduct within their organisations.  Further reading: Sexual harassment, sexual assault and rape by colleagues in the surgical workforce, and how women and men are living different realities: observational study using NHS population-derived weights Calling out the sexist and misogynist culture within healthcare: a blog by Dr Chelcie Jewitt, co-founder of the Surviving in Scrubs campaign GMC's Good medical practice 2024
  25. Content Article
    This research examined sexual misconduct occurring in surgery in the UK, so that more informed and targeted actions can be taken to make healthcare safer for staff and patients. A survey assessed individuals’ experiences with being sexually harassed, sexually assaulted, and raped by work colleagues. Individuals were also asked whether they had seen this happen to others at work. Compared with men, women were much more likely to have seen sexual misconduct happening to others, and to have it happen to them.  Individuals were also asked whether they thought healthcare-related organizations were handling issues of sexual misconduct adequately; most did not think they were. The General Medical Council (GMC) received the lowest evaluations.  The results of this study have implications for all stakeholders, including patients. Sexual misconduct was commonly experienced by respondents, representing a serious issue for the profession. There is a widespread lack of faith in the UK organizations responsible for dealing with this issue. Those organizations have a duty to protect the workforce, and to protect patients. Further reading: Breaking the silence: Addressing sexual misconduct in healthcare Calling out the sexist and misogynist culture within healthcare: a blog by Dr Chelcie Jewitt, co-founder of the Surviving in Scrubs campaign GMC's Good medical practice 2024
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