Abuse and harassment directed at hospital staff from minority ethnic backgrounds is on the rise in central Lancashire.
Figures reveal that more than a fifth of Black and Minority Ethnic (BME) workers at the Royal Preston and Chorley and South Ribble Hospitals were on the receiving end of abuse from the public during 2017.
The total proportion - at 21 percent - is slightly lower than the figure for White staff, but still a marginal increase on the 18 percent reported the previous year.
The experience of White staff members remains unchanged, with 23 percent having been victims of abuse.
A board meeting of Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was told the figures meant the situation faced by its BME employees was “getting worse disproportionately”.
Karen Swindley, Workforce and Education Director at the trust, said the statistics could be a local manifestation of a national problem, but added: “We need to understand whether there are patterns [of abuse] amongst staff with particular characteristics.”
Board members heard that the issue was now being tackled as a top priority and that a previous zero tolerance campaign could be updated.
Instances of harassment and abuse of BME staff by their own colleagues reduced last year, but still stands at 20 percent.
Educational material for the trust’s employees will be promoted, including a film entitled “Racist Banter is not a Laughing Matter”.
Lancashire Teaching Hospitals employs more than 1200 staff from minority ethnic backgrounds, making up 16 percent of the workforce - an increase of more than 9 percent between 2016/17 and 2017/18.
Elsewhere, there were reported improvements for BME employees at the trust, with a decrease in the proportion experiencing discrimination from a manager or colleagues.
BME staff are also now more likely than they were to be appointed to new roles having made to to a shortlist, although that chance remains 1.25 times greater for their White colleagues.
Similarly, there was an increase in the proportion of minority ethnic staff who felt that they had an equal chance of career progression - but with the figure standing at 78 percent, the trust is still treating it as a “priority area for improvement”.