"Staff at with bad cultural sensitivity"

About: Leith Community Treatment Centre / Radiology

(as the patient),

I was sent for a liver ultrasound today at my local treatment centre. I have quite an unusual name, which many people in Britain may think sounds foreign. I don't think of it is as foreign, because I was born and live here. I don't think of it as unusual, because I generally use it several times a day.

The nurse was quite nice, but almost the first thing she said was "where is your name from". I explained that I am from Dundee, but she asked where the origin of my name was. I think she was making polite conversation. It's actually really unpleasant to be asked "where you are from" in your own country. The assumption behind it is that you must somehow be "different" or "other". For example, we don't normally ask people with very unusual names but which are traditionally British where they are from. I told her the ethnic origin of my name eventually to get away from the topic.

Then the doctor came in. I was lying with my top off on the bed. This doctor marched in and started talking to the nurse and reading my notes, without even saying hello. Eventually I said hello and the doctor snapped hello back.

The doctor then asked my name and said: "where are from". I explained - again - that I was from Dundee. The doctor then laughed in my face and said: "are there many of you from Dundee? " I've rarely experienced such overt racism in my life. I explained that it wasn't really relevant to the medical procedure, but this doctor persisted in asking, saying: "well, it must be a foreign name".

This really upset me. Being told you are "foreign" or have a "foreign name" and being laughed at - it is like a throwback to the 1970s. Has nothing changed in the last 30 years? ?

I am sure NHS Lothian has a lot of fantastic staff who work for it. Sadly the person treating me today didn't seem to me to be one of them.

Perhaps NHS Lothian could start some equalities training for its staff.

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Response from Customer Relations and Feedback Team, NHS Lothian

Dear Edinburgh1900

I am sorry to learn of your experience. I agree that probably the nurse was making polite conversation; however, I am extremely sorry for the upset this has caused you. I can confirm that all NHS Lothian staff receive training in equality and diversity.

If you would like to discuss this further please contact the Customer Relations and Feedback Team on 0131 536 3370 or email craft@nhslothian.scot.nhs.uk.

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