RCM calls on the next Government to ‘eradicate racism in maternity services once and for all’

on 27 June 2024 Midwifery Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers BAME Pregnancy Women Government NHS Maternity Services

There should be no difference between the experiences of Black and Asian women and staff, or any marginalised group, and their white counterparts. That’s the message from the RCM to all politicians in the UK. As the general election campaign enters it’s final days, the RCM is asking politicians to ensure maternity service’s reflect the needs of the communities they serve and the staff that work in them.

The RCM says that there is growing body of evidence that pregnancy outcomes for non-white women and those from marginalised groups are worse. Clearly this is costing lives, with the most recent report by MBRRACE-UK report detailing that shockingly Black women are three times more likely to die during pregnancy or immediately afterwards with Asian women twice as likely compared to white women. This is both tragic and avoidable. It must be tackled as a matter of urgency.

Hard working midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) from the global majority also struggle with discrimination. They regularly experience bullying, and harassment at work. A recent NHS staff survey found that almost half of midwives who had experienced discrimination said it was because of their ethnic background. These staff are also more likely to be taken through disciplinarity procedures and struggle to reach the top levels of the midwifery profession.

RCM Chief Executive, Gill Walton, said:

“Maternity services must reflect the needs of both the communities they serve and the staff that work in them. Midwives aspire to deliver compassionate, empathetic care no matter their race or background. All those involved in commissioning and delivering maternity services must work together to address the unacceptable disparity in pregnancy outcomes for those from the global majority and disadvantaged backgrounds. It’s crucial that all those working in maternity services are aware of the increased risk, so they can personalise and enhance care for Black, Asian and minority ethnic women. We will continue our work to make maternity care better for these women and their babies, but we cannot do it alone. Politicians and policy makers need to urgently step up too. The work must be underpinned by investment for improved training and support for all those staffing maternity services.”

The RCM highlights that its groundbreaking work on decolonising the midwifery curriculum will ensure that midwives are taught in a way that reflects the communities they serve. The toolkit the RCM has produced as part of this, includes encouraging student recruitment from diverse backgrounds, and ensuring the curriculum educates students to care for women and babies from non-white backgrounds. While the RCM details that its recently launched MatDAT Tool will also help midwives to better support women from the global majority as addressing not only health and wellbeing, but social complexity is key to improving maternity outcomes for all women.




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