• Monday, April 15, 2024


Racial discrimination, bullying on maternity wards threaten mothers and babies, UK doctors’ watchdog chief warns

Representational Image: iStock

By: Shubham Ghosh

RACIAL discrimination and bullying on maternity wards could have a disastrous impact for both mothers and babies, the head of the UK’s General Medical Council (GMC) has warned.

Young medics working in obstetrics and gynaecology were at a greater risk of being undermined by their peers and get less support than colleagues who are in other specialisations, Charlie Massey, the chief executive of the doctors’ watchdog, told The Telegraph.

Doctors from ethnic minorities feel less supported than those from the white community, he added.

Massey’s remarks come in the wake of a series of NHS maternity scandals in recent years, the latest being the one at Shrewsbury and Telford Hospital Trust, where an investigation found more than a dozen women and 40 children died because of unsafe care.

According to Massey, the risk of unsafe care could lead to “absolutely tragic” human cost.

Addressing the NHS Confederation Conference, the GMC chief cited data to say that obstetrics and gynaecology trainees confessed they experienced more bullying and are also more likely to change to other specialties because they feel less well supported than their counterparts in other specialities.

Massey added that it is a profession that loses more of its newly-appointed consultants than others and it is also an area where doctors from ethnic minorities feel they are more at a disadvantage than their white counterparts.

Culture, leadership also matter, says GMC chief

“Culture and leadership are also frequent themes. This manifests itself in a lack of honesty, poor clinical governance and poor teamwork between the different professions, and it too often it leads to missed opportunities to learn and a failure to spot problems at an early stage,” Massey said.

The Ockenden Report into the scandal at Shrewsbury and Telford, published last December, found the trust having failed to conduct a proper probe into cases of poor care by the staff members over decades. That included not giving women choice at birth and forcing them to undergo painful forceps deliveries resulting in babies having broken bones.

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