More than 1,000 healthcare workers have been invited to a three-day diversity conference that will feature discussions on pronouns and gender.

Despite record backlogs, the NHS main contractor for community healthcare in south-east London, Bromley Healthcare, is hosting the conference entitled “Be the change” from Oct 3-5.

The conference will include lectures on “pronouns, language and LGBTQ+ allyship” and “gender and LGBTQ+ sessions for colleagues working with children”.

Emails seen by The Telegraph also show healthcare staff were told to complete “mandatory unconscious bias training”.

Miriam Cates, the Conservative MP, said: “This kind of ‘training’ is not only a complete waste of taxpayers’ money, it is also deeply divisive, spreading destructive ideas that the majority of the population reject.

“‘Unconscious bias’ training has been shown to be a worthless exercise and we should be deeply concerned that the NHS is encouraging its staff to talk to children in their care about sex and sexuality.

“The Government should introduce a ban on all public sector training that does not directly relate to the activities for which staff are employed.”

‘Focus should be on patient care’

Dame Priti Patel said: “The alarming rate at which woke ideology is powering through the ranks of the public sector and civil service is shocking.

“Now we hear of mandatory lectures for health professionals whose focus should be on patient care and not pronouns.

“The professionalism and impartiality of the machinery of the state is rightly under serious public scrutiny so it’s about time the leadership at the top of government took responsibility and stopped the spread of such activities across the public sector.”

More than seven million people were waiting for treatment in England at the end of July. Since then, all 1,300 staff employed by the contractor have received seven separate emails from the CEO of Bromley Healthcare, Jacqueline Scott, urging attendance of the conference, which is held annually.

A source told The Telegraph that the invitation was sent to teams that were so short-staffed they were in “near crisis mode” and at risk of ceasing operations.

Bromley Healthcare was found to require improvement in five out of six key areas of competence after its latest inspection by the independent regulator of the NHS in summer 2021.

The Care Quality Commission’s (CQC) report rated the contractor’s safety standards, effectiveness, responsiveness and leadership as requiring improvement. Only its care provision received a rating of “good”.

According to the CQC, “requires improvement” means that “the service isn’t performing as well as it should and we have told the service how it must improve”.

Issues highlighted included a failure to make “basic criminal record checks” on non-executive directors, a “variation in [the] quality” of care provided by nursing and health visiting teams, and it found “patient experience feedback was limited”.

Bromley Healthcare is a community interest company, meaning it is partly employee owned and profits are reinvested in the community.

‘Urge colleagues to join’

The majority of its funding comes from the NHS and in 2019-2020 it received more than £41 million from the taxpayer.

Every week staff receive “CEO updates” signed by “Jacqui (she/her)” in which the conference has been promoted.

One email said: “We have had 37 sign-ups so far – I urge all colleagues to try to join where possible!”

The first two days will be held virtually with talks planned from various diversity experts that are scheduled to take 10 hours to complete.

The final day will be held in the Orpington Golf Centre between 12pm and 6pm.

Talks promoted include a discussion on race which will address “racial inclusivity and equity in the workplace” and lectures on “inclusive language” and “LGBTQ+ identities”.

A CEO update from August 2022 stated that 82 per cent of staff had completed “mandatory online unconscious bias training”, aimed at tackling supposed hidden prejudices.

International Pronouns Day

In December 2020 ministers banned the training for civil servants in Whitehall after an official review found “no evidence that this training changes behaviour in the long term or improves workplace equality” and may even lead to “unintended negative consequences”.

In December 2022 Ms Scott promoted a blog she had co-written in her weekly update.

She said: “International Pronouns Day seeks to make respecting, sharing, and educating about personal pronouns commonplace.

“Being referred to by the wrong pronouns particularly affects transgender and gender-nonconforming people. Together, we can transform society to celebrate people’s multiple, intersecting identities.”

The blog continued: “We want to focus on building a community where inclusivity and diversity is celebrated, [and where] colleagues feel psychologically safe to bring their authentic self to work.”

A spokesman for Bromley Healthcare said it “actively encourages and offers diversity and inclusion training to our staff to ensure we are meeting and understanding the needs of all our communities and patients, especially those of our underserved communities.

“We dedicate specific resource and time for colleagues to be able to attend training and learning opportunities.

“These optional conference sessions have been designed and arranged by colleagues to have minimal impact on service delivery.”


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