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Investigation launched after woman demands all-white maternity team


Hospital staff have complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission after a woman in labour demanded an all-white team to deliver her baby.

The woman was not booked in to have the baby, but it was delivered safely, although not by an all-white nursing team.

The hospital began its own internal investigation and it has now been reported to Equality and Human Rights Commission, which received complaints from hospital staff about the incident and how it was dealt with.

Navrita Atwal of Milton Keynes Equality Council said: “I’m absolutely surprised by the circumstances of this case. What if there had not been a white doctor available? What would have happened then? I think the hospital staff should go through relevant training about how to think on their feet when this situation arises.”

A spokeswoman for the hospital said: “There is an ongoing investigation, which commenced after the incident occurred, relating to medical complications and because some staff expressed concern about the potential for racial discrimination, should such demands be raised by patients in the future.

“We take the interests and well-being of our staff very seriously and any act of racial discrimination will not be tolerated.

“Discrimination and prejudice, whether from patients, visitors or staff is unacceptable, and this is a message that we will continue to communicate internally and externally.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “All staff and patients should be treated with respect at all times and not be subjected to discrimination or harassment on any grounds.

“We expect all parts of the NHS to adhere to this principle and are seeking urgent clarification from the trust.”


Readers' comments (10)

  • I expect there would have been an outcry and massive complaints from this woman had a black doctor refused to treat a white woman. This is disgraceful behaviour, if you can have zero tolerance for aggression the same rules should apply to racism

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  • Racism is not acceptable I totally agree with you. Wonder if the results of the investigation would be published?

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  • Speaking generally, it is perfectly legal to ask for same gender, same religion, and that might amount to the same thing as race. There are for e.g. Jews who still have a problem with Germans.

    Bosnians with issues with Serbs and so on and so forth. If it is a race identity issue, is not illegal to be in the BNP or vote for the BNP or to ty to make the BNP vision a reality by legal means. Whether one agrees or not is another matter.

    Strictly speaking there is a primary consent issue, and perhaps competing rights. Most expectant mothers if they object to anything, will object to male nurses, for religious, sexual abuse etc. and that is perfectly legal.

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  • I have been involved in meetings when patient reps have requested that asian nurses are available to treat Asian patients in a leg ulcer clinic. The PCT saw this as cultural and felt it was reasonable request if not always possible. If the patient rep was white and had requested for white nurses would the response been the same? I think not. A nurse is a nurse; no one group should be able to discriminate against another & it should be the best person for the job regardless of race!

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  • yes, the best pratitioner for the job. Some of our best experts are non white. How dare anyone discriminate against them.

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  • It amazes me that stories can be sensationalised so as to get a reaction. This woman had a right to make her request just as a woman can refuse to have a male exam her and vice versa. Wether we can meet a patients request is another story however it was a request end of story. As it was she didnt get her way and was helped by various staff members who were not all white. I would expect any non white person would prefer someone from their own culture to help them if they were afraid or distressed in the hope that they would be more understanding to their needs and i beleive there is nothing wrong with this if we are able to accomodate this. Also are we not meant to have confidentiality in the NHS i would be more annoyed that certain people felt it was ok to breach this in order to claim racial discrimination!

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  • Discrimination of every kind is endemic within the british society. Being in the profession for 40 years there is nothing I haven't heard or seen. I always use unconditional positive regard where it be to race, religion, sexual orientation or politics. As a nurse I do have views and I agree with the trust that discrimination should not be a part of working in the NHS or any other health workplace. The law is the law and if you are predjudicial of race to someone then you are breaking the law and should be prosecuted as such!

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  • I will never, have never, support discrimination or racism - I will ask, as devils advocate, why it is ok for some and not for others to specifiy gender/race/culture in their practitioners.

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  • Well, lets not forget, this woman may herself have been black. As a black midwife, I have heard of black women stating that they wish to be cared for by white staff only. This is very offensive either way, but it does happen. I think it PC gone too far- choice can only be given to a certain level. Someones skin colour is not even their own choice- so for somebody else to discrimate against them for that reason is wrong.

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  • as a student midwife doing an essay on dignity and respect, i find this ver interesting. Its difficult to draw the line? I quite rightly agree that racism or any discrimanation should not be accepted by anyone, staff, patients e.c.t. as some of the comments i have read? is it wrong to ask for a white dr or any staff, the same goes for a black or asain? I think its the reason behind it that needs to be identified. however every nurse, dr ,midwife and all the staff should not have to accept any racial behaviour or treated disrespectfully.

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