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Hair braids ruling branded 'racism' WORKPLACE: Row over mental health bosses' risk assessment for staff.

Byline: By Alison Dayani

BIRMINGHAM mental health bosses have been accused of "institutionalised racism" over a new policy warning nurses that braiding their hair is a danger at work.

Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health Trust bosses introduced the new work policy this year, specifically citing hair braids and extensions as a "personal safety risk".

A row has broken out over the hair style, which is commonly worn in African Caribbean communities.

The Mental Health Trust today confirmed the new work wear policy with the warning on braids came into force in January, but said it did not require braids to be taken out.

But Bini Brown, chairman of Handsworth's African Caribbean Self-Help Organisation, today said the new policy was breaching human rights.

"I have never heard of a policy like this in my life," said Mr Brown.

"Claiming braids are a risk is madness and the mental health directors must be mental for coming up with a policy like this. This is tantamount to institutionalised racism."

NHS workers at the trust's centres, including Reaside, in Rubery and Queen Elizabeth Psychiatric Centre, Edgbaston, were sent notices warning against the hair style.

Ros Alstead, the Mental Health Trust's director of nursing, said: "This policy does not require staff to remove hair braids. Long hair, whether braided or not, should be tied back or up during a clinical procedure or when preparing food for safety and hygIiene reasons."

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"Shall we forget the buckets and spades then?"
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Publication:Birmingham Mail (England)
Date:Mar 22, 2008
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