People working in digital health are being urged to sign an open letter condemning racism and discrimination and pledging commitment to develop an ‘equity charter’ for the industry.

The letter states: “We the undersigned are appalled by the racist and misogynist remarks made by Frank Hester, CEO and owner of software company TPP… Racism, misogyny and other forms of discrimination have no place within the digital health and care community.

“It is not sufficient to be neutral against bigotry. We must all stand up and be counted.”

The initiative was announced on Wednesday afternoon by Ayesha Rahim, NHS England’s clinical lead for digital mental health, at the conclusion of Rewired 2024 in Birmingham.

Speaking to Digital Health News after her announcement on the Digital Transformation stage, Rahim said Hester’s widely reported comments about MP Diane Abbott had highlighted discriminatory attitudes that should concern everyone working in digital health.

“The digital space is full of ethical dimensions – this [racism] is an aspect we haven’t had to confront so openly. It’s forcing us to confront an uncomfortable conversation that has been avoided.”

She added: “We should live our values.”

The equity charter will set “standards of behaviour”, states the final paragraph of the letter: “We commit to coming together as individuals and organisations to develop an equity charter, which incorporates standards of behaviour that we hold ourselves and each other to.”

Hester has apologised for his “rude” remarks, which he said had nothing to do with gender or race.

Read the full letter and become a signatory here.