Black caller lists harrowing racism family suffered in NHS care

14 February 2022, 14:50

By Seán Hickey

This caller left Shelagh Fogarty lost for words as she recalled the agonising racism she and her family have experienced in the hands of the NHS.

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Provisional findings of a paper detailing health inequality in the NHS make damning reading for the health services. The devastating report led by the University of Manchester indicates rampant racism in the health services, despite concerns being voiced about health inequalities long ago.

LBC listeners have shared their personal experiences of racism within the health services throughout Monday morning. Anna phoned Shelagh Fogarty to share her lifetime battle with racism in the NHS.

She began by sharing the story of her sister, who after an initial diagnosis of Lupus had developed cancer in her spine and ribs.

A series of mistreatments, including being left on the floor after falling and having her blanket thrown next to her bed, made Anna's sister fearful of a return to hospital.

Read more: Senior NHS staff told to study 'white privilege' and 'not be defensive' in anti-racism blog

"She begged my mother, myself and her daughter to not bring her back to the hospital, no matter how ill she got." The caller insisted that she made the request "for the way they treated, not just her, but other black people."

As treatment worsened, including whispers between nurses that she was faking her illness, the caller's sister passed away.

Read more: NHS doctor tells Iain Dale of shocking racist abuse from patients

Anna then shared her own experience. Once, after passing blood and being sent for a colonoscopy, the findings of which recommended meeting a gastroenterologist, she was refused a referral by her GP.

She told Shelagh that it was blatant racism, "in the sense that you can just deal with it", because she is black.

Another instance she shared was when she was suffering with Anorexia in her late teens: "I went to my GP and he said 'black people don't suffer from eating disorders.'"

Her brother was told he had a groin injury from playing sport, but he didn't play sport. As the family delved further, it transpired that the joints in his hips were malformed.

Read more: Racism a 'root cause' of increased Covid-19 deaths among BAME patients, paper finds

"I remember crawling out of the ward", Anna said, recalling a time when she was discharged from hospital whilst in labour, because nurses insisted she wasn't.

"I vowed then and there to never have another kid."

She concluded by sharing how she stressed the importance of getting vaccinated to her black friends and family.

"If it's a choice between putting you on a ventilator and putting a white person on a ventilator, you're not going to be prioritised."

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