Midwives warn of ‘deeply worrying’ racial discrimination figures

Black and minority ethnic (BME) midwives in London are disproportionately more likely to face disciplinary proceedings than their white colleagues, leading the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) to call for more investment to promote diversity in the NHS workforce.

FoI requests made by the RCM every year since 2011 show that in-between July 2010-15 44.1% of midwives were from a BME background but 66.4% of BME midwives faced disciplinary hearings.

They also show that in every year since 2010, a higher proportion of BME midwives than white midwives were suspended as a result of disciplinary proceedings, with 19.6% of BME midwives who faced disciplinary proceedings being dismissed compared to 6.3% of white midwives. The racial difference between midwives being dismissed was even more severe – 13.2% of BME midwives and just 0.7% of white midwives lost their jobs.

Suzanne Tyler, RCM director of services to members, said: “Quite frankly these finding are deeply worrying. There is a pressing need to find out why it is happening. This and other reports suggest there is discrimination in the NHS and it must be tackled and it must be stopped.

“The NHS needs to make sure that staff are treated fairly and equitably. We need the NHS to provide a truly inclusive service and have an NHS which treats all service users with respect, dignity and compassion.

“Investment in NHS staff is an investment in NHS care; investing in a diverse NHS workforce allows the NHS to deliver a more inclusive service and improve care for service users. This is an important element in providing the best, high-quality care for all women and their families.”

There was no significant difference between the ethnic groups for other forms of disciplinary action outcome, such as warnings or no action.

A 2014 report, ‘The ‘Snowy white peaks’ of the NHS’ found that just 5.8% of NHS trust members are from BME backgrounds, prompting NHS leader Simon Stevens to call for greater diversity.

The RCM launched the report today at the TUC Black Workers’ Conference after affiliating to the TUC last year. They are also holding a debate, ‘Are the snowy white peaks in the NHS too high to climb?: A debate about the experiences of BME midwives working in the NHS’, at TUC Congress House on 16 June.

The RCM figures follow the Francis Report, which found that 19.3% of BME staff said they were more likely to be ignored by management compared with 14.7% of white staff; 40.7% of BME staff and 27% of white staff said they were less satisfied at work; and 21% of BME staff felt victimised by management, compared to 12.5% of white staff.

The report also said that only 3% of BME staff were praised by management after raising a concern compared with 7.2% of white staff, and 24% of BME staff did not raise a concern for fear of victimisation compared with 13% of white staff.

NHS Employers refused to comment when contacted by NHE.

(Image c. RCM)


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