Black History Month: Whittington nurse calls for better training in hospitals to address racial bias
PUBLISHED: 16:44 29 October 2020 | UPDATED: 16:44 29 October 2020
A paediatric nurse from the Whittington has called on hospitals to better educate staff to tackle racial bias.
Olympia Amoo, from Old Street, urged a greater understanding of medical conditions which pose a higher risk to Black patients such as sickle cell disease, and she warned of the country’s “default” to white people including in healthcare.
To mark Black History Month, the 27-year-old year old was given a ‘rising star’ award by the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) for instigating “difficult” conversations with colleagues over issues of race where she challenged doctors over their training for skin conditions specific to Black patients.
READ MORE: Black History Month: Akala and Mary Seacole celebrated as ‘faces’ of Royal Free and Whittington hospitals
Olympia told the Ham&High: “I didn’t want people to just talk about these issues - because talking won’t solve them.
“The main thing I wanted was for colleagues to go away with their own families in their own day to day life - outside of the hospital - and be more mindful of the things they say when they hear people’s experiences, not to belittle them.
“It’s more about actually putting these changes into practice and working on unconscious bias, day by day.
“I don’t think it’s going to be fixed overnight, but it seems like these conversations had never been had before. So we’re a step closer already.”
READ MORE: Black History Month: As a community we must show solidarity
Olympia said that to redress racial inequalities, greater education on Black and British history was vital.
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A mother of three, the nurse said an improved awareness of pregnancy issues affecting Black mothers was also needed.
“I think our default living in this country is to go to white skin and see that as the number one of what we work around,” Olympia said.
“I think it’s about changing that mentality to recognise that this is a place where lots of people from different countries and different backgrounds live, so we have to work around that.
“We all have unconscious biases in different ways, whether it’s race or gender, we all have them.
“When they flag up, we need to educate ourselves about them, speak to other people and not judge based on past experiences.
“It’s easier said than done - but that’s the only way we can move forward.”
Olympia’s Whittington colleague Lianta Downes, a dermatology nurse from Bounds Green, was also handed a rising star award by the RCN.
She said she would use the award as a “platform to make a difference for patients”.
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