RCPCH responds to BMA report – Delivering racial equality in medicine 

On Wednesday 15 June 2022, the British Medical Association published a landmark report on ‘Delivering racial equality in medicine’.
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The report draws on findings from a survey of over 2,000 doctors on their experiences of racism in the workplace to make recommendations on how we can all work together to deliver racial equality in medicine. The survey uncovered a range of statistics including that: 

  • Just over 90% of Black and Asian respondents, 73% Mixed and 64% of White respondents said racism in the medical profession is an issue.    
  • 76% of the doctors surveyed experienced racism at least once in the last two years, with 17% experiencing these racist incidents on a regular basis.  
  • Nearly one third of doctors have either left or considered leaving their job within the past two years due to race discrimination.   
  • 60% of doctors surveyed reporting that their mental wellbeing had suffered as a result of experiencing racism, with many suffering depression, low self-esteem and anxiety.
  • Seven-in-ten of colleagues don’t feel confident reporting their negative experiences due to fear of recrimination or worry that they will be perceived as a troublemaker. 

The BMA has outlined a range of recommendations, and their press release outlines the following themes:  

  • Being explicit about the need for change: This includes the need for centralised guidance on HR processes to be available across all organisations in the medical profession so that everyone is on the same page 
  • Improving racial literacy: Equality, diversity and inclusion training should be mandatory in medical school curricula 
  • Investment in root cause analysis and evaluation of interventions: Mandatory ethnic pay gap reporting to go with gender pay gap reporting 
  • Improving reporting processes: Medical students and doctors must have access to independent avenues to raise concerns, such as Freedom to Speak up Guardians 
  • Increased accountability: All organisations responsible for the progression of doctors must publish their outcomes by ethnicity 

Following the launch of the report, RCPCH President, Dr Camilla Kingdon said: 

There is no place for racism in the NHS – it must not pervade our culture and cannot be allowed to be endemic. This landmark report from the BMA is extremely important because only with data can we truly measure the problem to be tackled, and now improvements must be made against this horrendous baseline. Paediatricians, doctors, indeed all our staff and patients must not be made to feel the burden of racism in our NHS.

As the UK Government puts together the forthcoming Long Term Plan refresh this Autumn and anticipated NHS People Plan, they have an opportunity to take meaningful action. We call on politicians and other policymakers to reflect on this report and its recommendations to indisputably change the current and appalling reality for so many doctors. The time for action is now. 

At the College, we are dedicated to working for change. From our perspective, we will further reflect on these findings and learn from them. The College has already been working hard to help support professionals from ethnic minority backgrounds, responding to members needs and aspirations, but this is not a one and done job. We will continue to see how we can further support our workforce at all levels of the NHS, and indeed all our patients.  

I would like to thanks Dr Chaand Nagpaul for steering through this crucial report as Chair of Council at the BMA.

Commenting on the report RCPCH Assistant Registrar, Omowunmi (Mo) Akindolie said: 

We consistently hear stories regarding how racism is all pervasive in our culture, and sadly the statistics are no surprise to me. The quotes from the report echo too many familiar stories. Throughout my career, I have seen and heard about similar occurrences from colleagues. In addition to which, unfortunately, I also have first-hand experiences of racism in healthcare.

Real action and change has to happen as a matter of urgency and at every level. We all have to take individual and collective responsibility to effect the necessary changes and we cannot let this report sit on a shelf gathering dust.

On a positive note, there are multiple areas of good practice for us to learn from. There are an increasing number of fantastic Directors of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) already operating in acute trusts and integrated care systems. These executive level roles make a resounding statement in reflecting the priority organisations place on definitively addressing racism in healthcare.  

We already have the right tools and resources needed to take action with regards to the BMA’s recommendations. We just need to act with urgency and start using them. We must keep learning, sharing and caring for each other with deep compassion. We must spread anti-racism throughout healthcare and society.