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Concerns raised by staff at a trust in the South West have painted an all too familiar story for some and their experiences working in the NHS.

A letter from the Care Quality Commission has said staff at University Hospitals Bristol and Weston Foundation Trust were allegedly told by their line managers to use “Western work names”.

This was apparently because the workers’ own names were deemed “too difficult” to pronounce.

Although the alleged behaviour is, rightly, deemed appalling and outrageous, it serves as a painful reminder to those who have experienced similar discrimination during their careers.

HSJ readers reflected on their own situations in the comments section, but it served as a reminder of how far the NHS has to go yet.

The letter, sent by CQC’s head of hospital inspections Amanda Williams, said: “This is not acceptable, individuals can only truly thrive in a work environment when they feel safe as themselves and belong, rather than having to ‘fit in’.”

UHBWFT chief executive Robert Woolley condemned the behaviour during a July board meeting, insisted the alleged comment was not a “management instruction”, and added that additional training was being put together which covers “all those sorts of microaggressive behaviours”.

A peninsula project

One undisputable benefit (in theory) of the move to integrated care systems is the increased importance of NHS organisations pooling resources and streamlining processes.

Throw in a healthy amount of centrally allocated cash and the opportunities get bigger.

A good example of this is an emerging ambition in England’s south western corner, where trusts in two ICSs are now drawing up plans for one single electronic patient record.

Running the same EPR across Cornwall and Devon’s five acute trusts is a big ask, as implementing such technology in one trust is a big enough challenge on its own – let alone across two counties.

There will be many hurdles to jump through, but one of the biggest (funding) looks easier than usual to overcome.

That’s because four of the trusts have all been allocated several hundreds of millions of pounds for “new hospitals”, under the government’s flagship NHS policy.

This funding will cover the cost of digital transformations associated with the new hospitals. 

The fifth trust – Royal Devon and Exeter Foundation Trust – already has an EPR in place after going live with Epic last year. 

One assumes this will put Epic in pole position for the job of providing EPRs to the peninsula.