London Ambulance Service chief admits it has ‘long way to go’ to ensure black and Asian staff don’t suffer discrimination

LAS chairman Heather Lawrence said the organisation — of which almost one in five staff are from black, Asian and ethnic minority communities — had a “long way to go” to ensure they did not suffer discrimination at work.

Her intervention came after a workforce survey found that white LAS staff were increasingly likely to be appointed to a new post from a shortlist —while black workers were twice as likely to face disciplinary action.

Ms Lawrence told the LAS board: “Given all the work we have done on Black Lives Matter, the results are disappointing. We have to have a very strong focus on that, because we are not delivering.

“I had an email sent to me suggesting we had made no progress at all. While I recognise the person might have a particular perspective, I think we have got a long way to go.”

LAS has struggled to promote black and ethnic minority staff to higher levels. There have been longstanding allegations of bullying within the organisation, which is often blamed on the lack of central oversight as it operates out of about 100 ambulance stations.

The latest survey found 31.7 per cent of black and Asian staff reported experiencing harassment, bullying or abuse from colleagues, an increase of 1.7 points on last year.

Ms Lawrence said: “When you listen to the coverage of a year on from George Floyd, that is the message to the country as a whole. I want to see us taking that forward in an even more proactive way.”

LAS chiefs hope the use of violence reduction officers and the roll-out of body-worn cameras to crews will reduce abuse from patients. They are also looking to develop policies, in the wake of the abduction and killing of Sarah Everard, to improve the safety of female employees.



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