An ethnographic study exploring the over-representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) employees in the disciplinary process in a National Health Service (NHS) Trust

Sehmi, H. S. (2015) An ethnographic study exploring the over-representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) employees in the disciplinary process in a National Health Service (NHS) Trust. (Other thesis), University of Surrey,

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Aim: This study was undertaken to explore the over-representation of black and minority ethnic (BME) staff in the disciplinary process in a National Health Service (NHS) Mental Health Trust. Background: The Trust where this study was undertaken recognised there was a disproportional representation of BME staff involved in the disciplinary process. No reasons were given by the Trust for why this phenomenon existed. The over-representation of individuals from BME groups in NHS disciplinary hearings was raised as a topic for investigation by Parliament in 2008. Seminal work by Archibong and Darr (2010) has explored reasons for this over-representation. Ethnographic methodologies have not been used previously to develop our understanding of this area. Methods: Critical and focused ethnography were used to observe a disciplinary hearing and gain the perspectives of employees directly involved in the disciplinary process in a single trust. To examine the culture of the Trust, data were collected through fieldwork, participant observation, semi-structured interviews, journal/diary and secondary data. Thematic analysis devised by Braun and Clarke (2006) was used to analyse the data collected. Findings: Negative perceptions towards BME staff, particularly ‘black African’ nurses and healthcare assistants were uncovered. Tensions and rivalries within and between BME staff were also found. Disciplinary investigations were not always based on facts and not all the findings were presented. Investigating officers and the chair of the panel were not always given training to undertake their roles. In some cases, BME personnel were intentionally selected onto the disciplinary panel to avoid accusations of racism, particularly when BME employees were likely to be dismissed. Disparity of the sanctions imposed for similar cases were reported. There was a perception that BME staff were not articulate and treated more harshly than their white counterparts. Equality and diversity initiatives also remain on the periphery. The disaggregation and reconfiguration of services had some bearing on the performance of staff. Line management and clinical supervision was underutilised. Some managers who confronted BME employees were accused of ‘racism’ and had grievances taken out against them. Conclusion: Disciplinary processes involving BME staff cannot be discussed in isolation. Key factors, such as the impact of disaggregation and the reconfiguration of the Trust at a time of continuous change in the NHS, the employment of BME staff as well as the disciplinary process itself, need to be considered together. The discussion also needs to shift from the polarised division between ‘black and white’ staff and focus on the differences and tensions within and among BME staff.

Item Type: Thesis (Other)
Physical Location: This item is held in stock at Kingston University library.
Research Area: Health services research
Faculty, School or Research Centre: Faculty of Health, Social Care and Education (until 2017)
Depositing User: Clive Allnutt
Date Deposited: 21 Jan 2016 16:30
Last Modified: 06 Nov 2018 12:19

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