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At the heart of general practice since 1960

Donaldson pledges zero tolerance on racism against GPs

By Ian Quinn

Chief Medical Officer Sir Liam Donaldson has revealed plans for a zero tolerance policy to tackle racism against ethnic minority GPs and doctors.

The move comes as the GMC continues to investigate why a disproportionate number of fitness to practice cases involve doctors of overseas origin.

Sir Liam's 2007 annual report, published today, claims there is ‘considerable cause for concern' about the issue of racism in the NHS, with more than one in ten of those from ethnic minority backgrounds having experienced some discrimination in the past year alone.

NHS employers have been told to encourage ‘whistleblowers' to come forward so the GMC and the soon to be launched Care Quality Commission can clamp down on racism.

Sir Liam's plans include a mentorship for ethnic minority doctors, with mentors receiving training in equality issues. He also called on the GMC to ramp up collection of ethnicity data to be shared with NHS bodies and for the Care Quality Commission, when it launches, to name and shame organisation that fall short in equality issues.

An investigation is also called for into the higher mortality rates of black doctors in the United Kingdom

Sir Liam says: ‘Although cases of direct bullying and racial harassment may be less worrisome than in the past, it is important that a high level of awareness is maintained so that they are recognised, surfaced and dealt with as a priority.

‘A zero tolerance approach by NHS organisations, supported by medical professional leaders at local and national level, would be a major force for cultural change.'

Other recommendations in the report include:

• VACCINES: Streamlined process for rollout of new vaccines, which could include a vaccine for C. difficile within three years and a vaccine for MRSA within 10 years. Also a major campaign to reverse poor vaccine uptake levels in London and other areas of poor coverage.

• TEENS: A new campaign on teenage health issues such a s drinking and smoking, including a national summit and the introduction of a zero alcohol legal blood limit for 17-20 year old drivers

• OESOPHAGEAL CANCER: Research to understanding the alarming rise in oesophageal cancer which is the sixth most common cause of cancer deaths in England and Wales and kills 6,000 people a year. England has some of the highest rates of oesophageal cancer in Europe and it is bucking the trend of other cancers, where rates have been falling.

• SURGERY: New measures to make surgery safer including creating a clinical board to oversee safety and more use of risk scores to estimate the risk to patients before they have an operation.

GMC: urged to enforce zero tolerance policy on racism along with Care Quality Commission GMC: urged to enforce zero tolerance policy on racism along with Care Quality Commission

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