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White candidates still more likely to be appointed to NHS jobs than BME applicants

White applicants to NHS jobs in England have around double the chances of being appointed compared with candidates from a black or minority ethnic group, according to a report looking at race equality in the health service.

The annual NHS workforce race equality standard (WRES) report has revealed little progress in the past 12 months in BME staff being appointed following shortlisting for jobs at NHS trusts.

In 2019, white staff were 1.46 times more likely to be given an NHS role than BME candidates – similar to in 2018, when they were 1.45 times more likely to be appointed.

The analysis also shows that BME staff are 1.22 times more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process than white staff. However there has been some progress, with 30% more BME staff in senior management roles in 2019, compared with three years before.

NHS England’s chief executive Simon Stevens and its chief operating officer Amanda Pritchard said: ‘NHS employers are making genuine progress towards equalising core HR processes of recruitment and selection, training opportunities, and disciplinaries.’

The analysis of NHS trust data comes as the BMA separately warns that racial harassment in medical schools is an ‘unacceptable barrier’ to students achieving their full potential – and has called for the problem to be tackled.

Only half of 32 UK medical schools (out of a possible 40) collect data on their students’ complaints about racism and racial harassment, said the BMA, which uncovered the problem in conjunction with the BMJ following a freedom of information (FOI) request.

In addition, since 2010, between the 16 medical schools collecting data, only 11 complaints have been recorded, according to the FOI results.

In light of the findings, the BMA has launched a charter, sharing ‘clear standards’ for medical schools to improve their responses in this area. Its main areas of focus are:

  • Supporting individuals to speak out
  • Ensuring robust processes for reporting and handling complaints
  • Mainstreaming equality, diversity and inclusion across the learning environment
  • Addressing racial harassment on work placements

The BMA’s council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said: ‘Two-fifths of medical students are from BME backgrounds.

‘However, we know that sadly their experiences may not live up to expectations, with many experiencing greater levels of undermining behaviour, microaggressions, and racial harassment.

‘There is huge public and patient benefit to a multi-ethnic workforce and we need to value and support inclusivity and diversity from the very beginning.’

Last year, it was found that the GMC is more likely to investigate complaints against BME doctors, compared with their white counterparts.

Pulse also exclusively revealed that the RCGP was threatened with court action over BME bias.