Racism in the NHS a ‘debilitating’ problem, says BMA

  • Date: 23 February 2022

A SURVEY conducted by the BMA has found that over 90 per cent of Black and Asian respondents, 73 per cent mixed and 64 per cent of White respondents said racism in the medical profession is an issue.

Over 2000 doctors and medical students across the UK responded to the survey which was commissioned for the BMA’s Anti-Racism in Medicine report, which will be published in the Spring.

The survey found that 75.6 per cent of respondents experienced racism at least once in the last two years, with 17.4 per cent experiencing racist incidents on a regular basis. Among doctors experiencing racism, 71 per cent chose not to report incidents for a variety of reasons, including a lack of confidence that the incident would be addressed or fear they would be labelled ‘troublemakers’.

Around 60 per cent of doctors experiencing racism said that the incident had negatively impacted their wellbeing, including causing depression, anxiety, and increased stress levels. A significant percentage (59.7 percent Asian, 57.3 per cent Black, 45.1 per cent Mixed and 36.3 per cent White non-British respondents) saw racism as a barrier to career progression compared to just 4.2 per cent of White British respondents.

Nearly 20 per cent of doctors surveyed said that they either considered leaving (13.8 per cent) or left their job (5.6 per cent) within the past two years due to race discrimination.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said: “Portraying the NHS as a success purely because of the numbers of staff from ethnic minority backgrounds employed within the service, shows little acknowledgement of the racist incidents that these staff members deal with on a regular basis. In fact, while this survey found low levels of reporting racist incidents it also showed that nearly six in 10 doctors (58.2 per cent) found when they did report a racist incident it had a negative impact on them.

“These experiences of racism are clearly undermining the NHS’ ability to bring out the best in its workforce and there is no doubt that this will be having a knock-on effect on patient services… It’s high time the conversation on race equality in the medical profession changes – reflects NHS staff’s lived experiences and seeks solutions.

“Decision-makers must get their heads out of the sand and act now. The BMA will be publishing its full report with recommendations this Spring which the Government must act on as a matter of priority.”

This page was correct at the time of publication. Any guidance is intended as general guidance for members only. If you are a member and need specific advice relating to your own circumstances, please contact one of our advisers.

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