WORKFORCE: Black midwives make up a disproportionate number of those facing disciplinary proceedings in London, according to the Royal College of Midwives.

The college demanded an investigation after obtaining figures from the capital’s trusts showing that while black midwives made up only 32 per cent of the workforce, they accounted for 60 per cent of those disciplined.

Its report, Midwives and Disciplinary Proceedings in London, also claimed there were harsher penalties for ethnic minority staff. All of the 10 midwives dismissed in London over the 12 months to June 2011 were black – 15 per cent of the number subject to disciplinary proceedings.

About a third of the black midwives disciplined were suspended, compared to 17 per cent of their white counterparts.

A total of 108 of the 4,217 midwives in London faced disciplinary procedures over the period, including 65 black and 29 white midwives. These are the only ethnic groups making up more than 5 per cent of the workforce.

College chief executive Cathy Warwick said: “These results and the other research in this area are a real cause for concern. The first step is knowing it is happening and we have the evidence for that.

“The pressing need now is to work with the trusts to find out why this is happening and find solutions.”

Shadow health minister Diane Abbot said: “These findings are very worrying and we need to find out why it’s happening. There needs to be an investigation.”

A spokesman for NHS London said it would look “very closely at the data collated”.

He added: “NHS London had been in discussions with the RCM before this report to look at anecdotal evidence about the number of midwives from a BME background that were subject to disciplinary processes. We will be continuing to work with the RCM.”

A March 2010 report by the University of Bradford found black and minority ethnic staff were almost twice as likely to be disciplined as their white counterparts.