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Racism of the day kept Indian doctors away

A third of National Health Service (NHS) workers are not born in UK.

At a time when there is an increasingly negative policy focus on issues of racism, migration and health, the ‘Runnymede Trust’ launched a new book in September 2013, shedding light on the contribution made by Asian employees to NHS.

The Runnymede Trust is UK’s leading race equality think tank.

It works to identify barriers to race equality and good race relations; enables effective action for social change and influence policy at all levels through providing thought leadership and robust evidence.

Called, ‘Nurturing the Nation: The Asian contribution to the NHS since 1948,’ the Book looks at the lives and careers of Asian employees at all levels of the NHS. It focuses on 40 NHS workers who came to work in UK from various parts of the world and the amazing experiences that they have to share.

The Book provides as opportunity to celebrate the essential role our multi-ethnic society plays in public services.

It profiles nurses and midwives from Mauritius, Trinidad and Malaysia; doctors and dentists from India, Kenya, and Singapore; and psychiatrists and therapists from Pakistan.

It followed ‘Many Rivers to Cross: The History of the Caribbean Contribution to the NHS’ published in 2006.

The Book explores experiences of racial discrimination felt by Asian workers in the NHS and the attitudes of patients towards them.

Nagendra Sarmah, a retired General Practitioner, described his experience in the 1970s.

“I was a foreign Indian doctor. NHS Chairman, Secretary and other doctors did not help me. Since patients are given a choice, about 100 patients left because I had joined the practice,” he said.

Kuldip Bharj, a Senior lecturer in Midwifery said, “A couple had said they “did want to be cared for by Asians or Black people. The night got very busy; the woman went into established labour. I assisted her to birth and afterwards her partner gave me a big hug. In the staff room, the Sister said she was surprised. That was when I found out that they did not want to be cared for by Asians.”

In September last year, the Runnymede Trust launched ‘End Racism This Generation,’ a pledge-based campaign, calling on individuals and organisations to take action against racial discrimination in their own lives, workplaces and communities.

Dr Albert Persaud is the Founder and C-Chair of the Centre for Applied Research and Evaluation International Foundation (Careif), an international charity organisation based in London. He was acknowledged as one of the top 40 people of Asian Origin to have influenced the development and shaped the NHS in UK.

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