NHS boss tells black South African nurse to ‘go and bleach your skin’

An NHS boss told a black nurse to “bleach your skin so you come back white tomorrow and the patient treats you well” after she reported being racially abused, a tribunal heard.

Adelaide Kweyama from South Africa was shocked by the comment after she reported that a patient had racially abused her and pretended he couldn’t speak English.

She later heard the senior nurse tell a colleague she was “tired of people coming to work saying they’re not well” and that Ms Kweyama should “go and bleach her skin”, they said of the commission.

Ms Kweyama, who worked as an agency nurse at an immigration removal center in Heathrow, was also racially abused by a group of male detainees who called her a “f***** monkey” in a previous incident.

An employment judge has criticized NHS bosses’ response to the incident, describing it as “an absolute abdication of positive managerial responsibility”.

Adelaide Kweyama worked as an agency nurse at an immigration removal center in Heathrow

After her contract expired, Ms Kweyama successfully sued her employer, Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust, for race-related harassment and stalking.

An employment tribunal held in Watford heard that Ms Kweyama worked as a nurse for the agency between November 2017 and February 2019, regularly doing shifts as an agency nurse at the immigration removal center Heathrow.

The center houses around 600 detained male immigrants from a wide range of countries awaiting removal from the UK.

Detainees receive medical treatment from Trust staff before being deported, the panel was told.

In January 2019, there was an incident where Ms Kweyama was racially abused by a group of detainees waiting to be administered medication.

The nurse told them to come in one by one for their medicine and shut the door, after which she was racially abused.

Ms Kweyama told the tribunal: “[The detainees] started calling me f****r monkey and started making monkey and dog sounds demanding I come in at the same time.’

The nurse subsequently issued an electronic incident report, the tribunal heard.

“Overwhelmed” NHS managers failed to keep her informed of the progress of her complaint and did not tell her what steps were being taken to minimize the chance of such an event happening again, the group heard.

An employment judge deemed the Trust’s response to the incident an “absolute abdication of positive managerial responsibility”.

In another incident the following month, Ms Kweyama attended to a detainee who racially abused her and pretended he could not speak or understand English.

When Ms Kweyama raised the issue with her senior nurse, she said she was told: “You should get a tank of bleach to whiten your skin so that you come back tomorrow white and the patient will be nice to you. “

Later that day, the same nurse was heard talking to another colleague and saying: “I don’t care, let her bleach her skin, I’m sick of people coming to work saying they’re not well.”

A few weeks after the incident, Ms Kweyama emailed her agency, Athona, and told them she could no longer work at the Heathrow hub because she had “become very depressed … and needed time to recover psychologically and emotionally’.

Ms Kweyama also complained that she “suffered racist abuse”, the NHS Trust “did nothing to support her” and that she suffered “withdrawal from work as a result”, the panel heard.

In the same month, an NHS manager told her her contract was being terminated because the boss was “concerned about the claimant’s mental health” because “some of the words used in her statement were worrying”.

The tribunal concluded that the nurse had indeed been the victim of racial harassment and persecution when she was told to “whiten her skin”.

Ms Kweyama was also victimized by her boss for the same comments and when she was told her role at the agency was being terminated, the tribunal ruled.

However, her consent to direct racial discrimination was rejected.

A defense hearing will be held at a later date.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *