Zimbabwean woman gets an apology from British hospital

Alice Chigumira said her 17-year-old daughter "was really in distress" after reading the letter from consultant plastic surgeon Andy Pay.

In a letter to the chief executive of the hospital, Chigumira said of the letter to her daughter Michelle: "I find this a racist, derogative statement and very offensive.

"I was so shocked, let alone perplexed that a learned person who is a consultant at this time and age can use such language.

"This is politically incorrect and unprofessional."

Chigumira, a 44 year-old social worker orginally from Zimbabwe has made her complaint to the Royal Berkshire Hospital, Reading.

In her letter she said: "My daughter is 17 years old and quite aware of how negro was a word used to subject black people to derogative, racist statements.

"When the world is trying by all means to live in harmony, it is unfortunate a highly qualified doctor is not sensitive to such things.

"No amount of apology can be enough to my daughter and me. It has left us wondering how then she will be treated if she does manage to get the operation done.

Chigumira who sits on Reading’s race relations committee, said: "I work hard with the community to try and bridge a gap of such discrimination and to get good quality services for ethnic minorities only to have such statements opening the floodgates of racism in the NHS.

"As a civil servant myself, I do not subscribe to such language which leaves people feeling lesser."

Professor Ann Sheen, chief executive of the hospital trust, said: "We have received the complaint from Ms Chigumira regarding correspondence following her daughter’s appointment with a consultant plastic surgeon who holds an honorary contract with our trust.

"A full response and explanation will be sent to the family.

"However, I would immediately wish to apologise for what was a wholly inappropriate phrase in the letter.

"I would emphasise that the trust is totally committed to equality and diversity and we are determined to strive to provide nothing less than excellent service for every patient in our care." – Daily Telegraph