Report reveals scale of under representation and discrimination against BME doctors

DOCTORS in England from black and minority ethnic (BME) backgrounds now comprise 42 per cent of the NHS total, yet the number of BME medical directors has increased to only 20.3 per cent.

This disparity is just one finding from new data published as part of the inaugural Medical Workforce Race Equality Standard (MWRES), commissioned by NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens.

The report found has found that the number of BME doctors working for the NHS is the highest on record but they remain underrepresented in most senior positions, including consultant grade roles and academic positions.

The NHS Long Term Plan has called on every NHS trust in England to set its own target on senior BME representation by 2022, to reflect the overall workforce.

The report also calls on all the Royal Colleges to publish a breakdown of BME staff on their elected councils – with one Royal College having just 13 per cent of their council from a BME background.

The percentage of doctors believing that trusts provide equal opportunities for career progression or promotion was found to be around 15 per cent lower among BME consultants and other staff grade medics (77 per cent and 70 per cent respectively) than among white colleagues.

Disparities also still exist in percentage of BME doctors referred for disciplinary processes or GMC investigations compared with white doctors – while the percentage of BME doctors in postgraduate training reporting harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff was 29 per cent compared to 21 per cent of white doctors.

NHS Chief Executive, Simon Stevens said: "The NHS’s medical workforce is one of the most diverse in the country, and increasingly so. So it’s all the more critical that the profession, local employers and the wider NHS nationally all now act on these important and wide ranging findings."

BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul commented: "This data highlights the enormous gulf between the experiences of ethnic minority doctors compared to their white counterparts and the unacceptable level of discrimination that continues to permeate the medical profession.

"There can be no excuse for not tackling this issue; the evidence is clear and resounding. The Government and organisations employing and training doctors have a responsibility to work towards building a more inclusive and supportive culture in the NHS. It is vital that they work to eliminate the systemic and outdated mechanisms that are unfairly disadvantaging ethnic minority doctors."

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