Combatting racial discrimination against minority ethnic nurses and midwives

A new anti-racism resource has been published by NHS England to enable staff to take action against inequality.

3 November 2022

The NHS Confederation’s equality, diversity and inclusion group supported this piece of work which is designed to help nurses, midwives and nursing associates recognise and challenge racial discrimination and by doing so, it supports staff wellbeing, physical and psychological safety.

The new resource is aimed at all nursing and midwifery professionals registered with the Nursing and Midwifery Council working in the NHS. The practical examples and tools will help staff to discuss, explore and challenge racism safely and effectively, including at the time a challenging situation occurs.

The resource also outlines the expected behaviours from NHS organisations and leaders, which include:

  • the provision of training to support zero tolerance policies
  • senior leaders acting as proactive allies by taking the appropriate action
  • the provision of safe spaces for conversations - such as robust staff networks and events
  • organisations working with staff to educate and reform practice.

Lord Victor Adebowale, chair of the NHS Confederation said:

"It is important to recognise that racism can occur in every setting and the impacts can be devastating. We all have a part to play in stamping it out, including across the NHS so that all staff, patients and visitors feel they are treated with dignity and respect."

Joan Saddler OBE, director of partnerships and equality, and co-facilitator of the BME Leadership Network, NHS Confederation said:

“NHS staff are under unacceptable pressures particularly following the impact of COVID-19. Measures supporting staff wellbeing have been developed for all staff, including specific support for workforce stress and mental health. This resource begins to tackle another area, enabling staff on the ground experiencing and witnessing racism to take action.

“By tackling the raft of documented and consistent staff experiences of racism, NHS leaders will also be supported to ensure robust procedures deliver their NHS commitment to a safe and respectful environment for all.”

The NHS Staff Survey and Workforce Race Equality Standard data tells us that we need to do more to combat discrimination and racism.

All NHS organisations should promote anti-racist policy, practice and procedures, and know how to respond to racist practices, behaviours and incidents.

The resource has been developed in partnership with the Chief Nursing Officer, Chief Midwifery Officer, Ethnic Minority Action Plan Steering Group, NHS Confederation and the Nursing and Midwifery Council.