Bedfordshire’s mental health chief exec speaks up about race and COVID

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Dr Navina Evans Chief Executive of ELFT
Dr Navina Evans Chief Executive of ELFT

Tackling health and social inequalities is a priority for the leader of the NHS Trust providing mental health and community health care across Bedfordshire.

Dr Navina Evans, chief executive of East London NHS Foundation Trust (ELFT) has pledged to work with the community and has declared her support for all BAME colleagues in the light of recent events in America and the growing evidence that black and Asian people are among the most at-risk groups from COVID-19.

“As an organisation that provides services in areas which have large BAME communities, we were keen to acknowledge the impact of recent world events, and the sadness, anger and distress that many people are feeling,” said Dr Evans.

“Our message to the communities that we serve is that we will live up to our values, to care, respect and be inclusive, and will work with you to tackle obstacles to help you to meet your goals. That is our promise to you.

“As a diverse organisation with a BAME workforce of 50%, this has had a major impact on staff, as has the recent wide-ranging discussion about race, discrimination and inequalities.

Dr Evans has written to all staff, and also recorded a message to share her thoughts and feelings from the conversations she has had with groups of staff.

She has also featured in a Health Service Journal article talking about the need for NHS leaders to act.

“This [issue] has been compounded by the disproportionate impact of COVID-19 on BAME communities who have been amongst the hardest hit by incidence of coronavirus,” said Dr Evans.

“There is much debate about the underlying causes of this, such as ethnicity and deprivation, and that discussion will continue as we learn more about COVID-19.  It is important that our local communities know our position on these issues.”