Over 90% of Black and Asian doctors and medical students think racism in the medical profession is an issue, according to a major survey carried out by the BMA.
Interim findings from the ‘Racism in Medicine survey’, with over 2,000 responses from doctors and medical students in the UK, also showed that over three quarters (75.6%) experienced racism at least once in the last two years, with 17.4% experiencing it regularly.
Almost 60% (59.7%) of Asian respondents said they saw racism as a barrier to career progression, as did 57.3% Black, 45.1% Mixed and 36.3% White non-British respondents, compared to 4.2% of White British respondents.
More than seven in 10 doctors (71%) who experienced racism chose not to report the incident because of ‘a lack of confidence that the incident would be addressed or, and a fear they would be labelled “troublemakers”’.
One junior doctor of Mixed-Other ethnic background responding to the survey said: ‘I was called ‘headscarf b**ch’ by a patient.’
The data also revealed:
- Nearly six in 10 doctors (58.2%) found when they did report a racist incident, it had negatively affected their wellbeing including ‘causing depression, anxiety, and increased stress levels’;
- Nearly 20% of doctors said they either thought about leaving (13.8%) or left their job (5.6%) within the last two years due to racism;
- 73% Mixed and 64% of White respondents said race discrimination in the medical profession is an ‘issue’;
- 20% of respondents who had experienced racism said they had suffered racist behaviour from patients
BMA chair of council Dr Chaand Nagpaul said the results show ‘unacceptable levels of racism within the NHS which cannot be ignored’.
He said: ‘The findings highlight the negative impact that racist experiences have on doctor retention, wellbeing, and career progression – an indisputable rebuttal to the Government’s claims in its Sewell report that the NHS is a success story for ethnic minority doctors.
‘Portraying the NHS as a success purely because of the numbers of staff from ethnic minority backgrounds employed within the service, shows little acknowledgement of the racist incidents that these staff members deal with on a regular basis.’
He added: ‘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…
‘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 publish its full ‘Anti-Racism in Medicine’ report with recommendations this Spring which Dr Nagpaul said ‘the Government must act on as a matter of priority’.
The BMA has also commissioned research to examine the barriers to career progression of ethnic minority doctors.
It comes as the CQC admitted in a recent report that its inspection and monitoring methodology ‘may inadvertently disadvantage’ ethnic minority-run GP practices, leading to ‘inequities’.
In September, a GP nearly lost his sight in a racially motivated attack in Lincolnshire.
And in June, local GP leaders called on the Government to ‘publicly and repeatedly’ tell patients they cannot decline care based on a clinician’s ethnicity.
A previous report by an LMC found that more than half of black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) primary care staff have experienced racism at work coming from either patients or fellow colleagues.
The BMA expressed ‘deep concerns’ with the 2021 Government-commissioned report on race and ethnic disparities, stating that it failed to consider the ‘irrefutable evidence of discrimination faced by ethnic minority doctors at all stages of their career’.