Written evidence submitted by Prema Fairburn-Dorai (RTR0147)

Problems with retention of BAME staff

My name is Prema Fairburn-Dorai.  I am a product of the explosion of immigrants from Malaysia and other commonwealth countries in the late 1960’s who came to the UK to study nursing.  Nurses then were dedicated to their roles and worked hard without the aids and equipment that is available now to undertake work safely.  As far as I can remember, my training at Lewisham and Guy’s hospitals was a happy experience and I did not encounter too many racist situations.  There was an element of it within the staff team and promotions were more likely to be given to white British nurses.  My rise to management was unusual as I was promoted to the role of Ward Sister at the age of 24.  I can only conclude that this was the case because my communication skills were above average and I was not subjected to discrimination.  The nurses from commonwealth countries were in my view the backbone of the NHS.  I have seen the numerous changes throughout the 50 years of my nursing practice.  I also have owned care homes and a domiciliary care agency for the past 36 years.

I am also the Chair of the Suffolk Association of Independent Care Providers.


Pre- Brexit, 25% 0f our staff were from Europe.  They have nearly all left mostly to return to their own countries. I have 4 members of staff from Asian countries.

Due to the rurality of Suffolk, domiciliary care has always been difficult to service even with an all-UK workforce.  The staff are very choosy about the hours they work, they do not want to work weekends and evenings.  This makes it almost impossible to service our clients care needs.


What would I like to see changed?

My view is that we have been under funded for far too long.  The care sector needs to be funded fairly (on a par with the NHS) so that we can pay our staff at least £12 per hour and in the case of domiciliary care, we need to have travel time and mileage paid as well.  We also need the same career development and training opportunities that are available to NHS staff.  I am still pushing hard for the care sector to have a voice on the ICS board in Suffolk however nothing has materialised yet.  If true integration is the key to moving forward, we cannot remain marginalised.  I seriously feel this would make a difference.


March 2022