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Why NHS boss dubbed his own patch 'homophobic, racist, and awful'

PUBLISHED: 14:10 08 July 2019 | UPDATED: 14:33 08 July 2019

Colchester and Ipswich hospital boss Nick Hulme has explained why he said north east Essex was

Colchester and Ipswich hospital boss Nick Hulme has explained why he said north east Essex was "probably the most homophobic, racist, and awful places" in the country Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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The chief executive of Ipswich and Colchester hospitals has explained why he described north east Essex as one of the most "homophobic and racist" places in the country.

Nick Hulme, who heads up the East Suffolk and North Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), revealed a number of patients from the district have said they don't want to be treated by foreign nurses or doctors.

Making it clear that only a small minority of people hold such views, he said patients have also made remarks about people's sexuality.

His response comes as the Health Service Journal published his scathing comments about north east Essex, a patch he took over shortly before Ipswich and Colchester hospitals officially merged into ESNEFT.

During a HSJ roundtable discussion exploring the role of trust leaders, Mr Hulme is said to have described north east Essex as "probably the most homophobic, racist, awful place in some senses in the country".

According to the publication, he said it was "not by accident" that the seaside town of Clacton had elected a UKIP MP in 2014, and said some people in the area are "quite happy to sit around and talk about bloody foreigners and those poofs that live at the end of the road".

When asked what prompted the remarks, he said: "We have had a number of patients who said they don't want to be treated by black nurses, black doctors, and we've also had comments made by patients about people's sexuality.

"I've never come across that before in my career.

"It is a very tiny minority of people, I want to make that clear.

"But it is intolerable, and totally unacceptable.

"I've never come across these sorts of comments before about staff.

He added: "In that sense it's even more awful to hear because they are trying to improve patients' lives.

"We will not tolerate this in any corner of the NHS."

He also told the HSJ he hadn't heard the same "overt racism and homophobia" that he had heard in Suffolk for "probably 30 years".

"I stand by my comments about racist and homophobic behaviour," he said today.

"We have a zero tolerance approach to racist abuse and homophobia in our trust. This is all about protecting our patients and staff.

"One important point that I made is that only a tiny minority of the communities we serve who display these behaviours.

"If anyone is offended by my comments, I apologise."

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