A quarter of junior doctors are victims of race hate at work

A quarter of junior doctors have been victims of race hate at work, with the majority abused by their patients, a survey has uncovered.

The medical defence organisation MDDUS found that of that number, more than half said they had not felt adequately supported by senior managers when they reported racist abuse.

One-in-five junior doctors said experiencing personal racism at work meant they had considered quitting medicine altogether.

MDDUS, which represents the professional interests of 56,000 healthcare professionals, conducted a survey of its medical members across the UK aged between 24 and 34 years old.

It found that found that 24% had experienced racism at work. Of those, more than three quarters (77%) said it was a patient who racially abused them.

More than half (54%) of junior doctors surveyed said they’d witnessed a colleague being racially abused at work.

While nearly one-in-five (18%) said the racism they had experienced at work had made them consider leaving the medical profession altogether.

Dr John Holden, chief medical officer at MDDUS, said:

“Doctors from a minority ethnic background and those who qualified overseas and are registered to practise here in the UK are part of the backbone of the NHS.

“Their focus is their patients, and they do not deserve to be distracted from this by hateful racist attacks.

“Our findings highlight the debilitating impact on young doctors who experience racism at work. It is very distressing to hear about how badly it affects them both personally and professionally.

“They also spell out the impact racism has on staff retention and wellbeing at a time when the NHS is under pressure and needs to do everything it can to keep colleague morale high.

“Junior doctors need the full support of their Trust to call out incidents of racism in the workplace, and the confidence of knowing they will be dealt with in an open and transparent way.”

MDDUS also used Freedom of Information requests to investigate the extent of hate crimes reported to the police as having happened in a healthcare setting.

It found that these incidents are reported to forces more than twice daily on average, with the vast majority happening in hospitals.

Researchers from MDDUS asked all 45 police forces in the UK to release information about the number and type of hate crimes reported to them as occurring in hospitals, GP practices or other healthcare settings.

The FOI responses received showed that 875 hate crimes were recorded as occurring in a healthcare setting. The vast majority (94%) were reported to the police after incidents in hospitals.

Of the total, 86 per cent of incidents were reported to the police as race hate.


Notes to editors

The Medical and Dental Defence Union of Scotland (MDDUS) is a mutual organisation that protects the professional interests of more than 56,000 doctors and dentists across the United Kingdom, offering access to indemnity, support and legal advice.

The polling company Survation questioned 850 doctors aged between 24 and 34 years old on behalf of MDDUS. It found that amongst doctors across the UK in this age group:

  • 24% said that they had been subject to racism since they started practising medicine.
  • Over half (54%) said that they had witnessed a colleague be subject to racism.
  • Of those who had been subject to racism, 77% said that it was a patient who had carried out this behaviour.
  • A quarter (24%) of those who experienced racism said they were worried or anxious about going to work due to racism.
  • One in five (18%) who had experienced racism said they were considering leaving the profession altogether.
  • One in five (21%) who had experienced racism said their career progression had been impacted by racism.
  • 55% said they did not receive adequate support for the racism they were subjected to.

In response to its FOI request:

  • 21 out of the 45 UK police forces sent complete responses. These showed that 875 hate crimes took place in healthcare settings in England, Wales and Northern Ireland in 2021.
  • Of that number, 826 hate crimes occurred in a hospital in 2021 (94% of total).
  • Out of the total, 755 hate crimes that occurred in a healthcare setting were racial hate crimes (86% of total).
  • Police Scotland did not provide information, citing Section 12 of the FOI Act (the research is too expensive to justify) because the force records crimes by their type and not by location.
  • Several forces in England also did not provide information citing Section 12 of the FOI Act.
  • Humberside Police, Nottinghamshire Police, West Mercia Police and South Wales Police breached Section 10 of the Freedom of Information Act and did not provide any response.

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