Ambulance service to build on 'inclusive culture' after report into racism and lack of diversity

“It is clear from the report that we need to do more to address this kind of behaviour in EEAST”
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A report into racism at the East of England Ambulance has revealed some staff reportedly made racial comments when referring to an Asian colleague and asked if they spoke ‘gobildy gook.’

The ambulance trust (EEAST), which covers Peterborough, the rest of Cambridgeshire and other areas in the east of England, has said they are taking action to tackle issues raise in the report.

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The BME survey report was put together by consultants McKenzie LLP.

The report raises a number of concerns at the trustThe report raises a number of concerns at the trust
The report raises a number of concerns at the trust

Staff were asked, anonymously, about their experiences working for the trust.

One staff member quoted in the report claimed: “I was asked ‘Can you speak to them as they speak ‘gobildy gook?’’

‘The person that the manager was referring to spoke Punjabi - not a language I actually speak. It is just assumed that if you are ‘of colour’, you all come from the same place and speak the same language.”

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Another person alleged: “When my team were ordering a takeaway they didn’t order me one as they told me that they were ordering a curry and I was probably sick of them as I must eat them all the time.”

Another person quoted in the report raised concerns about the lack of people from BAME backgrounds employed in Peterborough, and said: “In the nine years I’ve worked here I don’t think any black African or Caribbean people have applied for jobs here and yet Peterborough is very mixed race city.”

A spokesperson for EEAST said they recognised more was needed to be done to tackle the behaviour outlined in the report.

They said: “We commissioned the BME report and our Equality, Diversity, and Inclusion Strategy is at the heart of our plan to improve the experiences for our people.

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"It is clear from the report that we need to do more to address this kind of behaviour in EEAST. We want our people to feel safe to report all discriminatory behaviour, and will focus on building an inclusive culture through providing the right tools and environment.

"We are also focussing on inclusive recruitment, mentoring, coaching and development programmes to build better representation across all levels of our organisation. Throughout all of this we will work with our BME and other staff networks to develop and test plans and decide what further action to take.”

When asked if anyone had lost their jobs as a result of the allegations in the report, the trust said the BME Survey was about listening to people and about their experiences but did not ask people to identify people for complaints.

A report in 2021 raised concerns about the culture at the trust, with sexual harassment and bullying raised as problems – however, in December it was confirmed the trust were making progress in tackling the issues.