Nothing unprogressive as racism in the health sector! A black nurse in the UK has called out her boss for racist statements and the NHS for being an accomplice to discrimination. Nurse Adelaide Kweyama tells her story of how she won over racism.
Forced To Bleach her Skin To Satisfy Patients: A Story Of Injustice
"Bleach" The Skin
Nurse Adelaide Kweyama has just won her case after suing the NHS for complete negligence to reports of racism amongst their staff. Her case springs up after a senior colleague told her to "bleach her skin" for white patients to be nicer to her.
Originally from South Africa, Adelaide Kweyama is a nurse that worked at an immigrant removal center in England. She suffered racial abuse from her patients and her senior nursing colleague. For damages done to her under the NHS, she has won £25,700 after her lawsuit against the service.
The Immigration Removal Center House
The center house in Heathrow is home to over 600 male detainees from different countries globally — before their deportation from the UK. As part of the government care policy, the detainees receive care and treatment from the Trust staff before their deportation time.
Come One At A Time
In February 2019, nurse Kweyama stated to have received derogatory remarks and comments from her patients. In her report to the tribunal, she mentions she had told the patients to come for their check-ups one at a time. It was during this time she was racially abused.
How It Started
She recounted that the detainees began using racial comments like "n****r" and "monkey" to refer to her. Some others made noises imitating monkeys and dogs to get her attention while all demanding to come through the door at the same time.
In her statement, she tried to maintain professionalism with one of her abusers, but the man wasn't letting it go. She reported that her abuser continued and, at one point, pretended not to know and understand the English language while receiving treatment.
Report To Her Superior
Nurse Kweyama raised the issue of abuse to her superiors about the bullying by her patients but was met with a somewhat demeaning response.
According to her statement, Adelaide Kweyama revealed that her superior told her, "You need to get a pool of bleach to bleach your skin so that you come back tomorrow white, and the patient will be nice to you."
Shocked by the comment from her superior, she further stated another derogatory remark she had overheard. Kweyama says she heard the same senior nurse talking to another colleague about her saying, "I do not care, let her go and bleach her skin, I am sick and tired of people coming to work and saying they are not well," insisting that Kweyama bleaches her skin quickly to hasten the treatment of sick patients.
Electronic Report To Tribunal
Following the proper channels to get justice, nurse Kweyama raised an electronic incident report regarding what had happened — to which the tribunal heard.
NHS Manager's Nonchalance
The NHS staff managers claimed to be "overworked" at the time and failed to update Kweyama on her complaint. Plus, it is stated that they (NHS) did not offer proper guidance to her on what the right steps had been taken on her incident and how to prevent it from recurring.
The Trauma Set In
It is recorded that Kweyama sent a query email to her agency, Athona, telling them she can longer work at the Heathrow center due to the racial abuse she suffered. Her report shows she became "very depressed" and needed a break to recover emotionally and psychologically.
While the NHS Trust had blatantly "done nothing to support her," she received a letter of "withdrawal of employment." Her boss terminated her working contract within the same month of her letter, and she could no longer work there.
Also highlighted in the nurse Kweyama case is her complaint about a direct race discrimination dismissal.
The Impact On Her
Kweyama spoke plainly about how the incident affected her. In her words, "The whole incident was handled atrociously. I was expecting support and reassurance from my nurse in charge whilst I was verbally abused by a patient, but I was appalled to get second abuse from her as my colleague telling me something that I cannot change."
Finally, the tribunal thoroughly examined all evidence and concluded that Kweyama was indeed a victim of abuse and race-related harassment.
Win Against Racism
After suing the NHS due to racial abuse, derogatory statements, and disregard from the service, Kweyama won over £25,700 from the case against Central and North West London NHS Foundation Trust.
Her Final Stance
During her statement, she reiterated the things that are not within her power to change: "I was born Black, I will live Black, and I will die Black — what is wrong with being Black?" She added, "I felt very insulted, discriminated, bullied, harassed, and abused."
She Felt Dehumanized
Recounting how the entire experience made her feel, Kweyama says, "I was dehumanized in front of my colleagues, I am now going through a lot of stress, and has impacted on my health, it is unbearable, it is emotional and psychological."