We introduce members to GMC's hub on challenging racism and discrimination in healthcare

The General Medical Council (GMC) has a new resource hub to support doctors facing racism at work. We give members some key takeaways, and how it applies to paediatrics.
Four hands of different skin tones holding each other in a square

The dedicated area provides advice on how to tackle discrimination, whether personally or as a bystander, and highlights the expectations of employers and medical leaders to foster inclusive cultures, so people feel able to challenge racism and raise concerns.

The hub is divided into several sections and provides advice and guidance on “witnessing racism at work”, “experiencing racism in the workplace”, “expectations on employers” and “reporting mechanisms”.

GMC hub: Racism in the workplace

Some key takeaways are listed below:

Those in management and leadership positions are expected to...
  • Address reports of discrimination that are brought to your attention directly – in cases where this isn’t appropriate, support colleagues who wish to escalate their concerns.
  • Provide a safe space – or route – for colleagues to share concerns of harassment or discrimination.
  • Become familiar with routes to escalate concerns or signpost colleagues to.
  • Use your influence to create an open and inclusive culture in which staff feel supported to speak up.
If you witness racism:
  • If you’re able to – and feel it’s appropriate and safe to, speak up in the moment and address the colleague or patient that is demonstrating racist behaviour.
  • Report the incident to a senior member of staff, HR or via a different route.
  • If racism is directed at your colleague by a patient, consider privately offering support to your colleague and ask if they are comfortable still treating the patient.
  • If you don’t feel you can intervene in the moment, record the incident by writing it down as soon as possible. Follow it up later by checking in with the colleague the behaviour was directed at to see if they’re ok and if they would appreciate support.
  • Find out about relevant local training i.e. Professional Behaviours & Patient Safety programme.
If you experience racist behaviour:
  • Talk to your colleagues and managers about your concerns and the impact of the incident on your wellbeing.
  • Contact the BMA (if you are a doctor), your union, staff support networks and employee assistance programmes for advice and wellbeing support.
  • Advise your employer of their duty of care to take steps to protect you from abuse.
  • Consider what steps you would like the employer to take and share these options with them
  • Share the GMC guidance and model policy with your employer.
  • If no action is taken, consider making a complaint through formal complaints and grievance procedures. Seek advice on how to do this through the organisation’s human resources department and your union representatives, such as the BMA.
  • Document all incidents with dates, times, people involved, and actions taken.

How this applies to paediatrics

In paediatrics it is likely that racist behaviour may not arise from the patient being treated but may occur from the parent or legal guardian. In these situations, protection of the healthcare professional should be a key concern, balanced with the needs of the patient to have appropriate and timely care.

There are several options that can be taken in these instances (and potentially more than one at a time).

Options in a paediatrics setting
  • Immediately confront the individual who has displayed discriminatory behaviours and tell them that their behaviour is unacceptable in this public healthcare environment. Be specific and give examples of their language/behaviours that were discriminatory or inappropriate.
  • Request that the legal guardian acknowledges their behaviour, apologises and agrees not to exhibit the behaviour again.
  • Tell them that the behaviour will be recorded on the patient’s record.
  • Obtain agreement that the legal guardian is to be asked to leave the environment.
  • If the legal guardian is abusive, but their presence is necessary for the wellbeing of the child/dependant adult, deliver care with security support.
  • Remove the legal guardian from the environment (with security or police involvement).
  • Engage child protection and vulnerable adult procedures if the safety of the child/dependant adult is at risk, eg, if the care for the patient is being restricted there may be a need to involve social services.
  • Involve the police and security to ensure safety of healthcare professionals.
  • As a last resort, discharge the patient from care - dependent on the presence of abuse, the way the request is expressed, and the health needs of the child/dependant adult.


Active bystander training sets people up with the skills to tackle discrimination when they witness it. Workshops are offered by a range of healthcare employers and training providers across the UK including:

Further support

If you have been affected by racism or any other form of discrimination in the workplace you can access advice on reporting routes and organisations that can support you by visiting the GMC Speaking up page.

You can also call the confidential helpline on 0161 923 6399 Monday to Friday, 09:00 - 17:00 to receive guidance on how to raise concerns you might be struggling with, and you can remain anonymous.