Coronavirus: Seacole hospital ‘a tribute’ to BAME NHS employees
When a brand new neighborhood hospital named after pioneering nurse Mary Seacole opened in Surrey this month, it marked a victory lengthy within the making for Patrick Vernon.
Patrick, a former NHS supervisor, has lengthy campaigned for higher recognition for Seacole, a Jamaican-born nurse who cared for wounded British troopers in the course of the Crimean Conflict.
For him, it was about acknowledging “the BAME contribution” to the NHS.
“It is not simply her legacy, it is our legacy,” says Patrick. “It’s the ethnic minority and black historic expertise.
“It is about acknowledging our contribution to Britain.”
A memorial statue of Seacole was erected in 2016 in her honour within the grounds of London’s St Thomas’ hospital, the place the prime minister lately underwent therapy for Covid-19. On the time, it was believed to be the primary memorial statue of a named black lady within the UK.
As coronavirus took maintain within the UK and short-term hospitals had been quickly constructed, Patrick launched a petition to have the sphere hospital at Birmingham’s NEC named after Seacole so she could possibly be acknowledged regionally and nationally.
His petition obtained slightly below 15,000 signatures and was backed by actress Baroness Benjamin, and NHS range lead Yvonne Coghill.
He calls it “a superb preliminary begin” however admits he had been hoping for extra responses.
Final month, NHS England introduced that the Birmingham area hospital, alongside six others, can be named after Florence Nightingale.
“I felt disillusioned that she hadn’t been acknowledged,” says Patrick.
“Everybody is aware of Florence Nightingale, she is a nationwide identify. However lately the Royal Faculty of Nursing have put Mary Seacole on the identical footing due to her nursing contribution.”
“It was like a kick within the tooth – particularly due to the disproportionate variety of BAME NHS employees and BAME folks dying.”
A current examine by the Workplace for Nationwide Statistics revealed that black folks in England and Wales had been almost twice as prone to die with coronavirus.
The ONS mentioned the danger to the BAME inhabitants could possibly be elevated by the truth that some ethnic teams could also be “over-represented in public-facing occupations”.
In keeping with authorities figures, roughly 20% of all NHS workforce are from an ethnic minority background, rising to 44% of medical employees in England and Wales. But BAME folks make up simply 14% of the inhabitants.
“I wasn’t criticising Florence Nightingale’s contribution. However having one thing symbolic resembling naming a hospital after Mary Seacole, can be a transparent constructive signal of acknowledgement of the BAME contribution to the well being service.
“It felt like a evident injustice.”
A earlier petition to have Seacole’s picture on the £50 observe obtained greater than 145,000 signatures, however finally proved unsuccessful. The observe as a substitute options pc pioneer Alan Turing.
However this time all was not misplaced.
On four Could, Headley Courtroom in Surrey – a former rehab centre for injured troopers – was reopened because the Seacole Centre.
The NHS Seacole Centre, the primary of its sort in England, can be used as a brief service for sufferers recovering from Covid-19.
“Recalling the pioneering work of Mary Seacole rightly pays tribute to our BAME nurses and different employees on the forefront of the extraordinary NHS response to this horrible Covid-19 pandemic,” says Sir Simon Stevens, NHS chief govt.
“It additionally serves as a well timed reminder that it’s their contribution over the previous seven a long time that has been a basis for the very success and continuation of the NHS itself.”
And Patrick is not stopping there.
“So long as we have now inequalities in society, there’ll at all times be a have to marketing campaign for justice and equity.
“All these hospitals are short-term. We do not understand how lengthy these hospitals will final for as a result of clearly the important thing factor is to verify folks get better.
“The renaming of the hospital is an effective begin. However why cease there? We must always construct upon this.
“We at all times must remind folks that we’re right here, that we’re contributing, that we exist. We aren’t going away.”
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