Hackney NHS mental health staff win award for challenging racism

Mental Health service staff in Hackney have won a BMJ award for challenging racism. 

Mental Health service staff in Hackney have won a BMJ award for challenging racism. - Credit: ELFT

Hackney's NHS Forensics Service team has received an award for the work they have done to recognise and act on racism. 

The East London NHS Foundation Trust's (ELFT) Forensics Service team, based in Hackney's John Howard Centre on Kenworthy Road, received a British Medical Journal (BMJ) award in the Diversity and Inclusion category.

The team's work saw staff and service users from East India Ward, a therapeutic setting for people with personality disorders, work together to challenge racism. 

Modern matron for East India Ward, Cornelia Kundishora, who led the award winning project, said: “Until now, racism has been very much ‘the elephant in the room.’

"A group of us decided that we are not going to ignore it anymore, but to treat it with the seriousness it deserves.

"Staff and service users have come together to support the victims – it has been a transformational experience.”

By applying quality improvement methods, the winning team were able to understand and challenge racist incidents and have developed processes to achieve a more respectful and equal work and living space.

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The team have created opportunities to celebrate different cultures and backgrounds by inviting speakers with different lived experiences to the ward. 

Another team from the John Howard Centre's Clerkenwell, Ludgate and Broadgate wards also received a special commendation for the BMJ Quality Improvement award for their work improving the sexual safety of service users.

The BMJ awards were announced on September 29. The high profile annual event is eagerly awaited by health professionals across the nation every year, with judges who are recognised leaders in their field.

Dr Amar Shah, the Trust's Chief Quality Officer, said: "The work the team has done, with service users and staff together, using quality improvement to tackle really challenging topics is inspiring for us all.

"Both projects have made a demonstrable difference to the quality of life and experience for service users and staff."

Dr Philip Baker, consultant forensic psychiatrist and head of ELFT's Forensic Services said: "We are incredibly proud of the staff who work in our Forensic Service.  

"Across the service they co-produce amazing projects with our service users and bravely take on challenges that it might feel easier to try to ignore."