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On employment: Equality issues

27 May, 2016

On employment: Equality issues

In april, the RCM released BME midwives, disciplinary proceedings and the workplace race equality standard – the first in a new series of publications about equality issues. 

The document follows up on the RCM’s 2012 report Freedom of information request: midwives and disciplinary proceedings in London, and sadly replicates the findings of that report, revealing significant issues with BME midwives and disciplinary proceedings in the NHS. 

The new publication provides the findings of five years of freedom of information requests the RCM has made to NHS trusts in London about the numbers of BME midwives involved in proceedings and the outcomes. The key findings highlighted that from July 2010 to June 2015, BME midwives were disproportionately more likely to face disciplinary proceedings. Of the midwives employed in London, 44.1% were from a BME background, and 66.4% of those facing such proceedings were from a BME background.

During the same five-year period, a higher proportion of BME midwives than white midwives were dismissed during these proceedings. A total of 38 were dismissed – 37 of whom were from a BME background. Overall, 13.2% of the BME midwives who faced disciplinary proceedings were dismissed, compared with 0.7% of the white midwives.

The high levels of discrimination against BME staff in the NHS have been widely evidenced in the report The snowy white peaks of the NHS: a survey of discrimination in governance and leadership and the potential impact on patient care in London and England by Middlesex University, and in the report Making the difference: diversity and inclusion in the NHS by The King’s Fund. Both reports led to the introduction of the Workplace Race Equality Standard in the NHS that aims to tackle discrimination.

Investing in a diverse workforce allows the NHS to deliver a more inclusive service and improve care for service users. Equality is about creating a fairer society where everybody has the opportunity to achieve their potential. Diversity is about recognising and valuing difference in its broadest sense. Inclusion is about an individual’s experience within the workplace, and in wider society, and the extent to which they feel valued.

The new RCM report can be downloaded here where you can also find the other publications in the equality series.

The RCM also presented a motion to the TUC Black Workers’ Conference in April about this issue. More information about the delegation is available here.

If you are interested in discussing this topic, you can join us in London for an evening debate titled ‘Are the snowy white peaks in the NHS too high to climb?: a debate about the experiences of BME midwives working in the NHS,’ which will be held at Congress House in London on 16 June at 6.30pm. More details about the event can be accessed here.

If you have any questions about this publication, or others in the series, email amy.leversidge@rcm.org.uk

Amy Leversidge, RCM employment relations advisor

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