Commenting on the statement, Professor Russell Viner, President of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, said:
Recent tragic events have caused us all to deeply reflect on the harsh reality of the structural inequality and racial discrimination felt by our BAME colleagues and communities. The distressing truth is that the COVID-19 pandemic has exacerbated and sharply exposed what was already there. The shocking killing of George Floyd in the United States has also brought wider global focus on the inequality and racism experienced particularly by those of black heritage.
The College is totally opposed to all forms racism and it should have no place in our society. Everyone in society must take an active role in ending it and we are committed to doing our part.
Sadly as paediatricians, we witness first-hand in clinical practice how assumptions and bias about race can have a direct impact on decision-making and health outcomes for BAME children and young people. It is also disheartening that the lived experience for those working in paediatrics and other medical specialties of BAME heritage can be differential attainment in exams and assessments, slower career progression, and lack of recognition and reward.
As a College, we are determined to be more active in our engagement with our members from BAME communities. As paediatric services begin to reset, restore and recover in the aftermath of COVID-19, we have an opportunity to advocate for incremental, long-term changes in NHS.
Our statement of support and solidarity sets out our commitments. We are committed to ensuring our BAME paediatricians have a strong and meaningful voice to help shape our actions going forward. This is vital so that inequalities can be better recognised where they exist. Also, the worse health outcomes and disadvantages felt by children and young people from BAME communities must be urgently addressed – we will continue to advocate on their behalf.
This statement of solidarity is not the conclusion of a process and will be part of a series of further actions we will take, informed by our BAME colleagues. We are determined and committed to understanding their needs and will continue to listen, support and act as allies for them now and into the future.
As part of our work, we will also be reflecting on our next steps as an organisation to achieve better representation on our committees and groups. As well as seeking more participation from our BAME colleagues, we recognise the need to engage other under-represented groups to represent the full breadth of our membership. We will be publishing more on this aspect in the coming weeks.