NEWS
28/11/2020 08:06 GMT

Exclusive: NHS Trust Apologises After Maternity Worker Racially Abuses Black Woman

Natalie Worgs was repeatedly called a “Black bitch” by a white woman in Waterloo Station.

An NHS Trust has apologised after allegations its staff member racially abused a Black woman in the public  – but refuses to say whether it has taken disciplinary action. 

Natalie Worgs, 44, says she was repeatedly called a “Black bitch” by a white woman in Waterloo Station who complained she was obstructing her path.

The mum-of-three was standing on a flat escalator and had stopped to take a photograph of a nearby billboard when the worker launched a tirade against her. 

Worgs, who was standing to one side of the escalators, explained to the woman that she was not in the way but was met with more hostility, told to “fuck off” and body-shamed about being “too wide” to get past.

“I heard a woman behind me, who was mumbling and then I heard her say: ‘Black bitch, move out of the way!’ I was so shocked when I learned she works at Chelsea and Westminster Hospital, because that is where I gave birth to my son 21 years ago,” Worgs told HuffPost UK.

“I was minding my own Blackness when, all of a sudden this went off on this sickening rant. I was shocked and completely shaken by what happened”. 

During the exchange, Worgs noticed the woman was wearing a name badge identifying her as a Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust employee. She took a photograph of the woman and her identification and lodged a complaint with the trust.

After confirming the woman was a trust employee, the hospital said internal investigations would be carried out and the complaints department would be in touch. However, the department failed to make contact and later decided against undertaking a separate review, a trust spokesperson confirmed.

Nigel Jarvis via Getty Images

Having chased details of the review’s outcome weeks later, Worgs was told that it could not be shared with her “due to confidentiality reasons” which she described as an “unsatisfactory response”. She said the trust made no effort to support her. 

Following enquiries from HuffPost UK, the trust eventually issued a written apology to the victim on November 20, after a series of evasive responses to her enquiries about its investigation.

“We are sorry that an employee of the service used offensive language towards you. We expect a high standard of professional behaviour to be displayed by our staff whether this is during work or in their personal life,” the letter reads.

“The service ensured a formal process was undertaken and the case managed by the NHS HR process and this process has now been concluded.” 

However, Worgs has criticised this statement, calling it a “blanket response” which fails to acknowledge the racist element of the incident. She also said the outcome of the trust’s investigation is not clear and fears it is “protecting” its staff member.

“The trust’s response has been extremely poor and, to be honest, I feel like because I’m Black this isn’t seen as important,” she said. 

Worg says being subjected to this abuse has left her feeling hurt and anxious about travelling on the Tube again but is determined to get answers and justice

A Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust spokesperson told HuffPost UK: “The trust is committed to equality, diversity and inclusion, and believes that everyone is entitled to be treated with respect. The trust cannot comment on current internal proceedings involving its staff.”

Jose Luis Pelaez Inc via Getty Images

Responding to Black Lives Matter protests, NHS chief executive Simon Stevens published a statement in June acknowledging the need to tackle racism within the institution.

Worgs, who works as a content community builder, also reported the incident to the police immediately after it happened and an investigation is underway.

A spokesperson for British Transport Police said: “Inquiries into the incident remain ongoing. BTP takes allegations of racial abuse very seriously and will investigate all incidents.”

Transport for London are supporting BTP with its investigation.

Siwan Hayward, security director at TfL, said: “Any form of hate crime will not be tolerated on our network. Everyone has the right to work or travel without fear of abuse or intimidation and if anyone witnesses or is victim to hate crime they should report it to the police immediately so it can be investigated.”

This incident comes amid widespread concerns about the Black maternal mortality rate in Britain. According to the 2019 report published by MBRRACE-UK, Black women in the UK are five times more likely to die during pregnancy and childbirth complications in comparison to their white counterparts. 

Thousands of Black women revealed the shocking racism they faced in the UK’s healthcare system during pregnancy and childbirth, a recent investigation between HuffPost UK and lifestyle publication Black Ballad revealed.  

“Maternity workers are meant to care for all women, including Black women, at the most vulnerable time in their lives. They should not be abusing us,” Worgs said.”