Hospital staff told to use 'Western names' because theirs were 'too difficult' to pronounce

The report found staff felt 'unwelcome and unwanted' following the request by bosses.

Hospital staff in the Bristol area were told to go by "Western names" at work because theirs were too hard to pronounce, an inspection has found.

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic workers at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston NHS Trust told watchdogs line managers had issued the order.

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has since written to the Trust - which runs the BRI, Bristol Children’s Hospital and Weston General Hospital - saying the directive was “not acceptable”.

The revelation came from an unannounced CQC inspection took which place in June.

Inspectors looked at the quality of medical care in Bristol and Weston as well as outpatients services and how well-led the organisation is.

In a letter to the Trust's chief executive following the inspection, the CQC said: “We were concerned to hear from staff that they have been told by line managers to adopt a ‘Western work name’ as the pronouncing of their name was too difficult.

“This is not acceptable. Individuals can only truly thrive in a work environment where they feel safe as themselves and belong, rather than having to ‘fit in’.”

Speaking at a UHBW board meeting, chief executive Robert Woolley criticised the behaviour as “micro-aggression” which left staff feeling “judged and unwelcome”.

He said it is "really quite concerning" and publicly insisted there was “no management instruction”.

The behaviour was described as 'micro-aggression' and left staff feeling 'unwelcome'.

'Isolated reports'

Mr Woolley told the virtual meeting on Thursday 29 July: “Just to make absolutely clear, there is no management instruction around that – those are isolated reports the CQC were informed about by staff themselves.

“We’ve been back to ask the CQC if they can give us more information about where that is happening.

“For confidentiality reasons they are unable to do so. But we have been looking in detail at this.

“I’ve made statements in my staff briefings that whatever the reasons are – people may think it’s funny, but it’s not funny – that kind of behaviour constitutes what we call micro-aggression, and cumulatively that just leaves staff feeling judged and unwelcome.

“We are putting additional training together. Our equality, diversion and inclusion manager is looking to launch that training and awareness in August, and we will send that trust-wide.

“It will cover all those sorts of micro-aggressive behaviours as well as the inability to respect people’s given names.”

Employees also sent the CQC photos of “buckets and towels gathering water” in a St Michael’s Hospital corridor and “water coming in through the roof” of main operating theatres at the Bristol Royal Infirmary - issues Mr Woolley said were well known and were being addressed.

Credit: Adam Postans, Local Democracy Reporter.