'All white staff' request refused for birth

Lauren Turner,Press Association
Wednesday 28 October 2009 16:21

A pregnant woman in labour arrived at a hospital and asked for an all-white team of staff to deliver her baby, it was confirmed today.

The unnamed white woman, who was not booked to have her child at Milton Keynes Hospital, Buckinghamshire, had the request refused.

Her baby was delivered safely, but not by all-white nursing staff.

Hospital employees have now complained to the Equality and Human Rights Commission about the way the situation was handled, prompting the launch of a "full investigation" by the hospital.

A spokeswoman for the hospital said: "We take the interests and wellbeing 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."

She added that there were medical complications during the birth earlier this month, but that mother and baby had now returned home "safe, well and happy".

The investigation relates both to the medical complications and the concern expressed by staff "about the potential for discrimination should such demands be raised by patients in the future", the spokeswoman said.

She added: "We have got a diverse workforce here and we are very proud of that diversity."

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."

The hospital said it is thought to be the first time such a request has been made to them. They confirmed that the woman was not local to Milton Keynes, but would not say why she had made her request.

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