The Royal College of Midwives (RCM) says urgent action is needed to stamp out racism in the NHS in a motion to the TUC Black Workers conference starting today. It calls for an open and inclusive NHS in which everyone feels that they belong and says the NHS must support and give black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) staff equal opportunities to progress.

Despite the laudable aim in the NHS People Plan promising ‘zero tolerance’, BAME NHS staff still face 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. 

Janet Ballintine is a midwife and RCM Board Member and has spoken about her own experiences of racism and discrimination in the NHS.  

Janet said: “I have been a midwife for 31 years and a nurse before that and have personally suffered on many occasions the shock of racism and discrimination, and the trauma it brings. I have also seen its effects on colleagues and the terrible toll it takes, personally and professionally.  It has no place in 21st century Britain, and in our NHS and the fact that is still happens angers and saddens me deeply. This motion to the TUC is so important because we must root out racism and end discrimination once and for all.” 

Staff from black, Asian or minority ethnic backgrounds continue to face discrimination and inequality and the pandemic has both magnified these existing problems and thrown a spotlight on them. During the pandemic BAME staff who asked for additional PPE during COVID were more likely to be refused, and nearly two-thirds of BAME healthcare workers felt more pressured to work with COVID patients compared to white staff (33%).  

The RCM motion to the TUC Black Workers Conference is part of the RCM’s Race Matters programme, launched last year to tackle this endemic problem within the NHS. The TUC conference is running from 19-21 March. 

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