Organisational change urgently needed to improve levels of discrimination experienced by NHS staff

By RCM on 07 April 2022 RCM Equality and Diversity BAME

More work needs to happen at pace to improve the experience of Black and minority ethnic staff, says the Royal College of Midwives (RCM) as it responds to the 2021 Workforce Race Equality Standard (WRES) report published today.

The report has revealed the number Black and minority ethnic staff experiencing discrimination from colleagues has risen since 2020 and the RCM says this must be tackled at organisational level in the NHS.  

Worryingly, the report also shows one-third of staff believe their trust doesn’t provide equal opportunities for career progression or promotion for Black and minority ethic staff, the lowest percentage recorded since the WRES report was established in 2016.

Commenting, RCM’s Executive Director, Trade Union, Suzanne Tyler said:

“The number of Black and Minority ethnic staff who experience discrimination in their workplace is at its highest level since 2015. We must all work together to root out discrimination and inequality, urgently and wherever we find it. Significant inequalities not only still exist but they are directly affecting the health, wellbeing and safety of midwives, maternity support workers and other NHS staff. The system is part of the problem and ending discrimination must focus on individual and organisational change.”

Numerous reports have identified that Black, Asian and minority ethnic NHS staff are more likely to go through disciplinary processes, either locally or through a regulator. As part of the RCM’s Race Matters programme, it has recently sought the views of its own Black, Asian and minority ethnic members who have been through or are going through disciplinary or capability proceedings, and from RCM workplace representatives supporting them.

The RCM says the survey findings will be used to inform and strengthen its work on supporting its members through disciplinary proceedings and the inequalities they face in maternity services.

Suzanne added:

“We really wanted to hear the stories from our members who have experienced or are experiencing racism and discrimination, to help highlight what the statistics feel like in reality. We believe it’s crucial to look behind the data in this WRES report and countless others if we are to really make a positive change for maternity staff experiences who are experiencing inequality and discrimination in the workplace. Information gathered from our survey will also support the in raising the issues affecting our members locally at Trust level and nationally through our race equality work. Why should it be that at Black, Asian and minority ethnic midwives and MSWs face higher levels of bullying, harassment and abuse faced by these staff, and have fewer opportunities to progress in their careers? That has to change.”



To contact the RCM Media Office call 020 7312 3456, or email [email protected]. 

Notes to Editors: 


The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) is the only trade union and professional association dedicated to serving midwifery and the whole midwifery team.  We provide workplace advice and support, professional and clinical guidance, and information, and learning opportunities with our broad range of events, conferences, and online resources. For more information visit the RCM | A professional organisation and trade union dedicated to serving the whole midwifery team