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Midwives call women in labour ‘Asian princesses’ amid ‘hostile’ environment fears

The NHS Race and Health Observatory has raised fundamental concerns about racism towards maternity patients after several cases have come to light in recent months, including midwives branding patients as “Asian princesses”.

The watchdog’s intervention follows regulators identifying patterns of racist and discriminatory behaviour at the maternity departments of two large hospital trusts and a smaller general hospital in the last six months.

The observatory’s CEO Habib Naqvi told HSJ  he was “deeply concerned” by the seriousness of the issues raised.

He added that “discriminatory behaviours and ways of working… [can] lead to hostile and unsupportive learning environments… impact patient care and safety, and also seriously undermine the NHS’s goal of attracting and retaining its workforce”.

Examples given included the term “Asian princess” being used by midwives in reference to brown-skinned women requesting pain relief during labour.

The students also described a “disregard” from some midwives towards black and brown-skinned women, particularly where English was not their first language. 

It was also reported when Asian women verbalised their pain during labour, some midwives responded with “Oh, they are all like this”, while additional derogatory comments were made towards asylum seekers, that “they are playing the system”, the NHSE team’s report said.

Read full story (paywalled)

Source: HSJ, 28 June 2024


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