Does it matter to the NHS that an employee holds membership to the BNP? The BNP is not a banned organisation.

We live in one the most democratically free nations, even allowing for the recent anti-terrorism laws. After all, my freedoms are predicated on your freedoms.

Overt racism is obviously easy to detect, manage and even prosecute. Our criminal justice system views race hate seriously by adding further weighting to the sentencing tariffs. The real challenge is the covert racist. Being a member of the BNP - is that evidence of covert racism? When I come to work, do I stop being a subscriber to the liberal leaning New Yorker, the capitalist, conservative Economist, a member of a church, mosque, temple or Stonehenge...? Can racist prejudice be left at the door?

How many organisations, public or private, have identified or even prosecuted employees who have revealed racist behaviours? What are racist behaviours and racist outcomes of decisions not seemingly intended to be racist? Has an organisation ever admitted to institutional racism and shown accountability? Then throw in the definition of institutional racism - a concept that is in fact a reality but one that is hard for even the most senior members of organisations to understand, or even accept as real. Revealing uncomfortable truths about individuals and organisations is just that - uncomfortable - for everyone.

Organisations are defined by the people that define their culture; the visible, tangible aspects of that culture are only the tip of the iceberg that is that culture. The NHS is a complex organisation with a myriad of sub-cultures. The beliefs of the individual, even just one individual, expressed covertly, knowingly, or unknowingly, contribute to that culture. The NHS is a caring organisation, but it is still defined and troubled by what constitutes an organisation that draws its people from the society it serves.

Some interest groups, political movements, gentlemen's clubs wish to retain secret membership. We understand why the secrecy. If memberships are to be kept secret, then the degree of vigilance needed has to be acknowledged and encouraged. Organisational vigilance is stated in structures defined by laws, guidelines, policies, regulators... but vigilance remains the responsibility of the individual. The context, of course, is that the David that challenges and survives the Goliath that fights to keep a clean external face at all costs is as rare a story today as it was in Biblical times.

If we expect our members of Parliament to reveal their memberships and interests, then that standard should apply to all public service employees - a registry of interests held by the organisation, open and regulated. That would be a start. Then perhaps we can start challenging the concept of the secret organisation defined by its secret list, and the secret self-interest that is unlikely to be in our collective interest.

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