Government has ‘no plan’ to tackle negative experiences of ethnic minority doctors, BMA warns
Responding to the government’s report on the ‘Commission on Racial and Ethnic Disparities‘ (CRED), BMA Chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said ministers had again blocked the development of a strategy to tackle the “unequal” experiences of health workers from minority ethnic groups.
Dr Nagpaul pointed out that there was ‘compelling evidence’ that ethnic minority doctors faced issues such as increased levels of bullying and poorer career development, which were erroneously assumed ‘to be part of the work” of thousands of workers.
To prevent ethnic minority doctors from suffering ‘unacceptable disadvantages’, the BMA chairman argued that the government should ‘listen to the lived experience’ of doctors.
Ethnic minority doctors
Concerns about a lack of action to tackle prejudice against ethnic minority doctors follow tentative findings from the BMA’s ‘Racism in Medicine’ survey, which showed that more than three-quarters of NHS doctors have experienced racism at least once in the past two years.
The government report acknowledges a “need to build trust” around the NHS and its diverse workforce and pay transparency, but said further analysis was needed to “understand the nuances of the NHS workforce data and reduce disparate wages”.
An ethnic pay gap research project is planned to address the ethnic pay gap, but Dr Nagpaul said the report’s recommendations did not go far enough to tackle day-to-day issues of racism in the workplace. within the NHS.
He said: ‘There is compelling evidence that ethnic minority doctors face additional barriers, increased levels of intimidation and harassment, poorer career progression and excessive levels of disciplinary proceedings. , which we laid bare in our report on interim findings on racism in medicine. In fact, systemic racism is often mistakenly seen as simply “part of the job” for thousands of ethnic minority doctors and healthcare workers.
NHS structural racism
“By refusing to listen to the lived experience of ethnic minority doctors and other healthcare workers, we will continue to see the unacceptable reality of certain groups of disadvantaged doctors.”
Dr Nagpaul also said it was “deeply disappointing” that the government continued to ignore “the fundamental reality of the structural and systemic factors” that cause people from ethnic minorities to face health inequities.
He said: ‘It is positive that the report promises to investigate areas such as racial bias in medical equipment, reduced life expectancy and poor maternal health, as well as a commitment to enforce healthcare providers to account for ethnic disparities in their workforce.
“However, the report downplays some ethnic health disparities, citing examples of improved health outcomes among certain racial groups with certain medical conditions, while ignoring the stark findings of the recent Health Observatory Rapid Review. Health and Race from the NHS, which revealed vast inequalities for those from ethnic minority communities across a range of health services, including mental health.
He added: “If the government does not openly acknowledge the existence of structural racism in society, it cannot begin to address the root causes that have led to unacceptable health disparities affecting certain ethnic groups. “
In its February report, the BMA accused health officials of having their “head in the sand” because of widespread racism in the NHS. It revealed that more than 9 in 10 black and Asian respondents said racism in the medical profession was a problem.
The study also found that of more than 2,000 physicians, one-fifth of physicians had either considered leaving (13.8%) or left their jobs (5.6%) in the past two years due to discrimination. racial.
A recent GMC report on plans to eliminate bias in regulation and education found a slight drop in the number of ethnic minority doctors referred for fitness to practice (FTP) procedures – from 5, 6%, over the five-year period to 2020, to 5.3% in the five years to 2021.