RCPsych campaign calls for action on racism

  • Date: 21 July 2023

THE NHS needs to do “much more” to tackle racism against staff, the president of the Royal College of Psychiatrists has said.

In his farewell speech as president, Dr Adrian James said racism was a “stain on the NHS” and was partly why workers are “leaving the NHS in droves”. He cited examples such as ethnic pay gaps, disparities in disciplinary processes and under-representation of people from minority ethnic backgrounds in management positions.

His speech comes as the college launched its Act Against Racism campaign, calling on mental health employees across the UK to adopt 15 actions to tackle racism in the workplace.

A survey of RCPsych members in 2021 found almost six in 10 doctors (58 per cent) from minority ethnic backgrounds have faced overt or covert racism at work. Of those, more than a quarter (29 per cent) said it affected their health, while 41 per cent said it had an impact on patients or carers.

NHS data shows doctors from minority ethnic backgrounds are paid seven per cent less on average than comparable white colleagues. The NHS Medical Workforce Race Equality Standard report (PDF) also found doctors from minority ethnic backgrounds make up 42 per cent of the medical workforce in England but only 20 per cent of medical directors.

Dr James said: “Tackling racism in the workplace is key to recruiting and retaining psychiatrists and other health practitioners.

“[Racism] damages mental health and makes existing mental illness worse. It destroys lives – the lives of patients and colleagues. The NHS has a moral, ethical and legal duty to do much more to stamp out racism in all its forms.”

He said the college’s Tackling racism in the workplace guidance shows employers how to recognise and respond to instances of discrimination on racial and ethnic grounds and signposts them to sources of support within and outside their own organisation.

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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