Elder Hanson, 55, was an experienced sexual health nurse who had worked in the profession for thirty five years. It was whilst he was working at the Caldecot sexual health clinic in South London that he observed deliberate abuse and malpractice directed at patients of whom the majority were African. Elder Hanson had obtained the highest training in this specialist field and was appointed project community liaison nurse in May 2002 by his employers.
Soon afterwards, Elder Hanson became aware of the systematic abuse of African patients. Despite his job being secure and having the respect of his peers in the field he decided to risk all to bring the racist perpetrators to justice. During an interview with the radio presenter, Kwaku Bonsu, on community radio station Power Jam he spoke of how "On several occasions a particular [european] nurse boasted to myself and other nurses that she would push the urethral probe deeper than necessary up the urethra of black males to cause them physical pain”.
He continued; "Black patients were routinely called derogatory names such as 'crows', 'yardie criminals', 'monkeys', and 'breeders', among many other offensive and hurtful names. Black women were routinely left exposed on examination chairs, unattended for long periods without covering. Staff would brag that this was to punish them for asking difficult questions about the waiting time."
His allegations were backed up with witness statements.
Caldecot nurse, Henrietta Simms, spoke in support of Elder Hanson revealing that european staff openly referred to African patients using offensive racist epithet such as "black crows" and "black b**ches."
The Blink website reported that Simms called them to say that she believed there were no longer any racism issues at the clinic, but had in 2003 wrote that "The attitude of the European staff was that all black men attending the clinic are infected with gonorrhoea". The site also reveals that Former nurse, Vida Smith, wrote that a senior european nurse hid the notes of African patients to make them wait longer and cause them "maximum discomfort and anxiety."
Attempts were made to buy Elder Hanson’s silence but he rejected them fearing the issues would be covered up. Despite the substantive corroborative evidence to support his allegations, Elder Hanson was fired from his job and forced to face a disciplinary hearing by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) for what in effect was speaking out against racism, incompetence and professional misconduct. The intention of the NMC was to strike him off the Register of Nurses if they found against him.
Incredibly this persecution was instigated by a top African NHS executive named Michael Parker who, before his appointment as trust chairman, was alleged to have sympathised with Elder Hanson’s community orientated stance for social justice.
The lawyer David Neita, voluntarily took on the case for Elder Hanson and said; “When I heard about the case, I thought it was important to represent him. He cared for his community and his fellow staff… That was the type of man he was and that is why I was pleased to defend him.”
An independent investigation conducted by consultant, Pat Garbutt, in May 2003 into some of Elder Hanson’s concerns found the NHS clinic he worked in responsible for serious errors of repeat misdiagnoses. Garbutt wrote "it was evident that a number of staff have clearly experienced the display of racial attitudes and behaviour". Elder Hanson believed that fifteen African patients who had been identified as recipients of dangerous mistreatment represented a small proportion of those who had been failed by the NHS. As a result the King's College Trust implemented 18 recommendations for improvements to safeguarding the welfare of patients and introduced race awareness training for staff.
Matilda MacAttram, an independent race relations health consultant, told the Black Britain website that Hanson’s decision “to embark on combating institutional racism cost him his life.” She said; “It is heroes like Milton who have stood up, and it’s for this reason alone; his life cannot be lost in vain…Hopefully his bravery and his ability to stand alone in the face of diversity will send out a very loud message to our community, to stand-up for people who are brave enough to make a difference.”
Even in 2005 when Elder Hanson returned home to Jamaica to care for his mother he continued to expose the racist abuse rife in the clinic. During one interview on Irie FM he became so concerned about the situation and its impact on his life he began to cry. Members of the community took action in support and began picketing the British high commission on his behalf.
Unfortunately, on that same day Milton Hanson suffered a stroke at his home in Priestman's River in Portland and was taken to the Port Antonio Hospital. Mark Wignall reports in the Jamaican Observer that “On Monday he was taken by ambulance on a trip which was never finished. The idea was to take him to Kingston because the hospital in Port Antonio did not have a machine to scan his brain. On the way his condition became unstable and the ambulance took him instead to the hospital in Annotto Bay.
Milton Hanson, a victim of stroke had to wait one-and-a-half hours before he was admitted. I know because one of his relatives called me while they were there waiting. At one stage, she told me, he needed a bedpan because he was indicating he wanted to vomit. None was found to give him. He was eventually admitted. On Tuesday he died. He fought for his people in a foreign country. In his own country, we placed him on the dump heap of our health system. On Tuesday last, a good man dies. Walk Good Milton Hanson.”
Elder Hanson joined the ancestors 5 November 2005 leaving his long-term partner Pearlita Brown and son Scott.
Elder Milton Hanson
External LinksJamaican observer - Milestones of FailureBlack Britain - Nurse who took on racism in NHS remembered in vigilBlink - The man who wants to punish a whistleblower twice
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