RCM’s Race Matters programme enters next phase

By Lydia O'Neill on 23 March 2021 Midwives MSWs - Maternity Support Workers NHS Staff Race matters

The Royal College of Midwives’ flagship programme to tackle racism in maternity services is entering its next phase. Nine months on from the launch of Race Matters, the College is looking to deepen its understanding of the experiences of Black, Asian and minority ethnic midwives and maternity support workers (MSWs) and offer positive, practical support through the recruitment of a Race Matters Project Worker.

Based within the London regional team, the new role will champion inclusion and diversity and ensure the voices of maternity staff of colour are heard across the RCM. and carried through all decision making.

Suzanne Tyler, Executive Director of Services to Members at the RCM, said: "When we launched Race Matters last year, we pledged to listen and to act. This post is pivotal in helping the RCM shape its support and representation of members, not just in London or even just in England, but across the UK, and we will apply this experience across every UK region and nation. If you are currently practising as a midwife or maternity support worker and this sounds like the next great opportunity for you, we want to hear from you.”

Launched in June 2020, the Race Matters initiative took flight as ‘the golden thread’ the RCM would put into all its work going forward. The launch chimed with the growing awareness and conversations on systemic racism in society, communities and in our NHS. The RCM has committed to a five point plan to ensure inclusivity and diversity for its members and the women and families in maternity care.

Since then, the RCM has rolled out training to all its staff and is currently providing this to all its activists. The RCM is continuing to work with organisations like the Association of South Asian Midwives and with Dr Gloria Rowland, author of the recent Turning the Tide report, to help develop better support for maternity staff of colour.

Suzanne Tyler added: "We recognise that, while the RCM has a part to play, we cannot tackle racism in isolation. That is why we are working in collaboration with other organisations and we are looking forward to working with the newly appointed BAME Midwifery lead for NHS England Wendy Olayiwola."

The RCM is also using its influence on the national stage to challenge racism in the NHS, with a motion to the TUC Black Workers conference. Despite the laudable aim in the NHS People Plan promising ‘zero tolerance’, Black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff are still facing significant challenges. The 2020 NHS Staff Survey published last week found that BAME staff are more than twice as likely to personally experience discrimination at work than white staff.