Last Wednesday evening I turned up for a meeting of potential governors of the London Ambulance Service in the Board Room of St Thomas' Hospital and was faced with a situation which I never expected to have to face - a Fascist and racist member of the London Assembly, Richard Barnbrook, was present at the event. What followed and my feelings about it I placed in the following email to the Press Office of the LAS last Friday:
I am about to issue a press release as the Chair of the Patients Forum regarding an incident which occurred this Wednesday night at the Foundation Trust event for future patient governors organised at St Thomas’ Hospital. Richard Barnbrook, a former BNP member of the London Assembly, was present, and I raised my objections to his presence with both Peter Bradley (Chief Executive) and Sandra Adams (Head of Corporate Services). Sandra Adams replied that he was a member of the Foundation Trust and that there was nothing she could do. The seriousness of the incident was compounded by Peter Bradley specifically welcoming him during the opening address, which I found very objectionable.
During the break I also raised my concerns with Margaret Vander, Head of PPI, and I was asked not to raise the issue during the workshops, although by that stage he had left the meeting. I told Margaret that there needed to be firm equal ops policies embedded in the conditions for the election of any future governor and now there is a distinct possibility that he may be standing as a governor of the LAS.
At a time when 96% of LAS employees are white, and this was painfully obvious in the staff photo presented at the event, and when there are no BME people whatsoever on the board of the LAS, representing the emergency service of Europe’s most diverse city, this is hugely insulting to BME patients and users of the ambulance service.
The Patients Forum has for some years now been expressing its concerns to the LAS about a lack of diversity in both workforce and board and about racist incidents which have occurred in the LAS and has written several times to both the CRE and its successor, the Equality and Human Rights Commission.
For me having a Fascist and racist attending an event for future governors of the LAS, being welcomed by the Chief Executive and with the prospect of standing for election as a governor is a grave cause for concern and protest and is a clarion call for the LAS to set its house in order.
Dr Joseph Healy
Chair of the LAS Patients Forum
Unfortunately as I had to spend most of Friday at work without the opportunity of compiling a press release, I sent out the following press release today to all of the major papers, BBC London, the Voice newspaper and the Health Service Journal. I sincerely hope that the LAS does something about this but the Patients Forum has been fighting this battle for too long on its own and now needs external support. There is no way that we can allow an avowed racist and Fascist to run London's Ambulance Service and the LAS has got to get its house in order.
Monday 16th May 2011.
“The Patients Forum of the London Ambulance Service is seriously concerned about the involvement of the former BNP, and now Independent, Assembly Member, Richard Barnbrook, in the forthcoming election for governors of the London Ambulance Service, when it becomes a Foundation Trust later this year.
At an event last Wednesday at St Thomas’ Hospital, organised for potential governors, Barnbrook attended and was personally welcomed by the Chief Executive of the Trust, Peter Bradley. The Chair of the London Ambulance Service Patients Forum, Dr Joseph Healy, objected to his presence and passed these objections on to both the Chief Executive and the Director of Corporate Services, Sandra Adams, but was told that Barnbrook was a member of the Foundation Trust.
At a time when the London Ambulance Service, which serves the most diverse city in Europe, has a 96% white workforce and a Board of Directors, which does not include one black or ethnic minority member, facts which the Patients Forum has continued to point out to the LAS and to the Equality and Human Rights Commission, we consider this a serious development.
The LAS needs as a matter of priority to put in place safeguards around equal opportunities which will prevent Fascists and racists standing for election as governors of one of London’s main emergency services. Furthermore, we call for the LAS to urgently address the lack of black and minority ethnic representation within both its workforce and its governance system. Only when this issue has been properly addressed can the LAS truly claim to represent all of the patients and users of the LAS in Europe’s most diverse city.”Dr Joseph Healy
Patients Forum London Ambulance Service