Colchester Hospital’s boss has said he believes patients who refuse to be treated by someone of a different ethic background should be denied treatment.

Nick Hulme spoke out amid concerns the number of hospital staff who are regularly subjected to racist abuse is increasing.

Speaking to ITV he said: “Should we be refusing treatment for people who specifically say they won’t have treatment from somebody of an ethnic background? My view is yes, we should.”

Mr Hulme says he and the trust take a no tolerance approach to racist behaviour towards staff.

Earlier this year Mr Hulme described north east Essex as “probably the most homophobic, racist, awful, place to live in this country”.

During a discussion organised by the Health Service Journal, he hit out at views held by some patients and urged people to challenge them.

Mr Hulme said the East Suffolk and North Essex Foundation Trust had a more diverse workforce than the patient group it serves and urged fellow chief executives to challenge racist and homophobic abuse from staff and patients.

He said: “We have some of the most right wing, bigoted, racist and homophobic remarks and behaviours, certainly in north east Essex.

“How do you deal with a patient who says they refuse to be treated by a black nurse, which is not uncommon?

“How do we challenge that as leaders?

“How do we challenge our staff when they make those comments?

“Do we reflect the community we serve or do we challenge the community we serve? I think we have a responsibility to challenge some of that.”

Mr Hulme worked in London for several years before taking on the chief executive role at Ipswich Hospital and arrived at his role in Colchester three years ago, prior to the two trust’s eventually merging.