The professional body of doctors, the British Medical Association (BMA), has revealed the results of their Racism in Medicine survey, which has uncovered the pervasiveness of discrimination in the NHS.
The largest of its kind survey received over 2,000 responses from doctors and medical students from across the UK.
Just over 90% of Black and Asian respondents, 73% of Mixed ethnicity and 64% of White respondents said racism in the medical profession is a considerable problem. Moreover, the survey’s data exposed the broader implications of racist experiences, including:
- 75.6% of the doctors reported to have experienced racism at least once in the last two years, with 17.4% experiencing these racist incidents regularly.
- The survey also shows a low level of reporting for racist incidents, with 71% of doctors who experienced racism choosing not to report it to anyone due to a lack of confidence that the incident would be addressed or, a fear, they would be labelled 'troublemakers'.
- 20% who had experienced racist behaviours from patients.
- Nearly 20% of doctors said they either considered leaving (13.8%) or quitting their job (5.6%) within the past two years due to racial discrimination.
- Nearly 60% of doctors who experienced racism said that the incident had negatively impacted their wellbeing, including causing depression, anxiety, and increased stress levels.
- 59.7%, Asian 57.3% Black, 45.1%, Mixed and 36.3% White non-British respondents saw racism as a barrier to career progression compared to just 4.2% of White British respondents.
A consultant commented about their experience of racism: “A patient suggested I can be deported if they suffer post-op complications.”
While another consultant of Indian background said:
"I was not taken seriously. Emails were ignored. I was branded and suffered work-related stress and hypertension. I think of leaving this job every day."
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Racist experiences are symptomatic of a workplace culture built around silence
Later this year, the survey's full findings are due to be published in full in the BMA’s ‘Anti-Racism in Medicine’ report, which will outline the causes of racial inequality in the health service. A series of recommendations will also be made at the individual, organisational, and societal levels to ensure that the types of actions necessary to combat discrimination are implemented.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said: “The results from this survey, though interim, show unacceptable levels of racism within the NHS which cannot be ignored.”
"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. The GMC's independent report into the wellbeing of doctors and medical students found abundant evidence that workplace stress in healthcare organisations affects the quality of care for patients as well as doctors' own health. It's high time the conversation on race equality in the medical profession changes – reflects NHS staff's lived experiences and seeks solutions.”
"Employers and the Government have a duty of care to address the concerns of those who work within the health service. 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.”