The BMA has ‘deep concerns’ with the recently-published report on race and ethnic disparities in Britain and has asked to meet with the commission’s chair to discuss the findings.
The report, commissioned by the Government and published at the end of last month, said the UK ‘no longer” had a system ‘deliberately rigged against ethnic minorities’. But the BMA said it failed to consider the ‘irrefutable evidence of discrimination faced by ethnic minority doctors at all stages of their career’.
In a letter to the commission’s chair, Dr Tony Sewell, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul raised ‘deep concerns’ that the doctors’ union’s significant experience had gone unheard.
The BMA, which represents more than 150,000 doctors and medical students, submitted both written and oral evidence to the inquiry, the GP said, adding: ‘We do not believe the report appropriately reflected our submission.’
Dr Nagpaul argued that the report ‘provides shockingly little analysis of the challenges faced by many ethnic minority and overseas-trained doctors, including differential attainment and under-representation among the highest ranks within the NHS’.
There is ‘irrefutable evidence of discrimination faced by ethnic minority doctors at all stages of their career commencing from medical school,’ he added.
Since its publication, the 258-page report has been widely criticised for ignoring or minimising the role of structural factors in disparities between ethnic groups.
And, according to Dr Nagpaul, the report demonstrated ‘a failure to acknowledge that it is often root structural inequalities that directly lead to many ethnic minorities being more greatly affected by social determinants of health’.
He also criticised a failure to mention that 85% of doctors who died from Covid-19 in the UK were from minority ethnic backgrounds.
The BMA’s letter, sent last week, comes after the commission defended itself against criticism of the report earlier this month.
It said: ‘We have never said that racism does not exist in society or in institutions. We say the contrary: racism is real and we must do more to tackle it. That is why our very first recommendation to the Government is to challenge racist and discriminatory action and increase funding to the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) to pursue investigations…
‘This is a wide-ranging report, and we hope it will lead to further research and better understanding of the complex causes of inequalities in the UK.’
It comes as the GMC announced earlier this week that it will consider proposals to establish ‘measures and targets’ to mitigate bias against ethnic minority doctors in fitness-to-practise (FTP) referrals.
It also comes as an NHS workforce report last year revealed that 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.