JUST under nine per cent of the workforce at Salisbury District Hospital come from black and minority ethnic communities.

“The local community is far less at around four per cent,” Pamela Permalloo-Bass, the hospital’s head of equality and diversity, says.

“We provide support for those from ethnic minorities and do things around raising awareness to the public about the different ethnicities working here and the positive things it brings to the workforce.

“When the first cohort of Portuguese nurses arrived we provided a bespoke support group.

"This involved signposting both within the hospital, such as where to find information from HR and the staff club, and in the local community of Salisbury, like banks, transport, restaurants and the best places to visit.

“We are also collecting data under our NHS national requirements to ensure that staff who may feel disadvantaged are engaged with our internal support mechanisms.

“The big ethnic groups are Europeans, being mainly Spanish and Portuguese, Indian doctors and Filipino nurses.”

Within the Equality Act there are nine protected characteristics: age, disability, gender re-assignment, race, religion and belief, gender, sexual orientation, pregnancy and maternity, and marriage and civil partnerships.

Pamela said: “We focus on areas within those groups.

"These are areas such as discrimination, encouraging, supporting and fostering positive relationships.”

Equality and diversity applies to both patients and staff with some of the recent work by the team involving supporting patients with hearing loss.

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“A lot of our work goes into understanding what’s going on within the local community through liaising with the clinical teams and via both patient groups and staff groups - this helps us decide what areas are most important for us as an organisation,” Pamela said.

“We found that a lot of patients coming into hospital who have experienced hearing loss were either not bringing their hearing aid with them or they did but it would get lost.

“We purchased a number of bright yellow and red hearing aid boxes which are unlikely to get lost and the patients can take it home with them.

“We also run different awareness events on particular topics, for example mental health and lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) issues.

“Just under one per cent of hospital staff are LGBT with the national data being around five per cent.

"We believe staff don’t always disclose their sexual orientation so we do a lot to help staff to feel more open in the work place.

"We have an LGBT champion Lisa Brown who is a nurse at the hospital and is involved in the staff group, the Rainbow Shed.

"We also have a disabled support network and a disabilities champion. If you are a staff member there are lots of different groups you can join.”

Recent events taking place at the hospital have included an Equality for Everyone afternoon in October which helped promote the cultures and ethnicity of the workforce in an informal way with food tasters and a Q&A.

Earlier this year Pamela won the national Leader of Inclusivity of the Year Award from the NHS Leadership Academy.