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Health / Health chief says Black Lives Matter movement is important for ‘whole range of reasons’

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson. Photo: Chris Cope/Shetland News

NHS Shetland chief executive Michael Dickson has reiterated that discrimination has no place in healthcare while adding his support to the Black Lives Matter movement.

The movement has gained renewed focus in recent weeks following the death of George Floyd in the US while he was being restrained by police.

A local group called Shetland Staands wi Black Lives Matter was set up this week to add a local voice to the cause.

Speaking in his weekly live video on Facebook, Dickson said the movement is important for a “whole range of reasons”.

“As chief executive of NHS Shetland, no-one who requires care should ever be concerned that they are going to be discriminated against due to their gender, the colour of their skin, their sexuality, or any other issue,” he said.

“You come needing help, and that’s what we’re here for. And that goes for our staff as well.”

Dickson added that the LGBT community is also “absolutely essential to how we deliver our services”.

The health chief warned, however, that holding gatherings in support of Black Lives Matter can be “incredibly risky” if social distancing cannot be maintained.

He referred to recent large protests in parks in Glasgow and Edinburgh and suggested initiatives like Clap For Carers are more suited to the current situation.

Shetland Staands wi Black Lives Matter is holding a walk event on Saturday (13 June) where people are encouraged to collect a poster from a pick-up point while on a walk in their local area.

Its organisers – who have the go-ahead from the police – have stressed that it will “respect lockdown guidelines at all times”, with the emphasis placed on photos being taken of folk holding the posters to create a “virtual protest”.

The group said on Thursday morning that “safety is paramount and we want to completely adhere to social distancing rules”.

A separate event described as a peaceful protest which is being organised by different people is scheduled for the following Saturday in Lerwick.

Its organisers have requested anyone attending wear masks and stand a minimum of six feet apart. A route around Lerwick has been suggested for people to walk.