Discrimination in the NHS ‘needs to be tackled and stopped’, according to the Royal College of Midwives in response to findings on black minority ethnic (BME) nurses’ career progress and outcomes.
According to research published by the Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC), BME nurses are more likely than white colleagues to be referred to the NMC in the fitness to practice process and these referrals most often come from employers.
However, BME nurses and midwives are less likely to be struck off or suspended than their white counterparts.
The RCM said their own research showed BME midwives in London are disproportionately more likely to face disciplinary proceedings and receive a more severe outcome from them. They suggest referral of BME nurses and midwives in ‘inappropriately used’ by their employers.
RCM director for services to members Suzanne Tyler said: ‘This is valuable research and confirms what ourselves and others have been saying about this issue. This is perhaps an opportunity wasted by the NMC to take a central role in ensuring BME registrants are treated fairly.
‘It would seem from this work that referral of nurses and midwives is inappropriately used by employers in relation to their BME employees. There is a pressing need for all the organisations involved - the NMC, employers, the RCM and others - to work together to stop this happening.
‘The evidence suggests that there is discrimination in the NHS and this needs to be tackled and stopped. The NHS needs to make sure that staff are treated fairly and equitably. Until that happens I fear that we will still be seeing our BME colleagues treated unfairly by their employers and by the system and this is not good enough.’
This is the first time the NMC has undertaken this type of research and they now plan to discuss the findings and recommendations with their stakeholders, as well as meet with patient groups, employers, professional bodies and other regulators to make ‘positive changes’.