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Black representation matters



I know our Power 50 is not universally popular. But one thing it does do is allow us to do a very informal audit about the power brokers in general practice. And a glance at last year’s Power 50 shows that general practice is an incredibly diverse profession. There is work to do on female representation – considering the workforce is more than 50% female, this is not reflected in our list.

At first glance though, BAME GPs are very well represented. But on closer inspection, it’s only accurate to say AME GPs are well represented. Only three of the 500 entries on our Power 50 over the past ten years have been black. 

I touched on this last year. But it is a good time to revisit the reasons. Partly it is due to workforce numbers – but only part. There are no statistics of ethnic make up of the GP workforce, but the RCGP’s annual exam reports from 2018 shows that around 3.4% of British-educated trainees taking the exam were black. Around 8% of all GPs taking the exam were black. Way above the 3/500 representation in the Power 50.

But, the biggest reason there are fewer black GPs in the Power 50 is because black GPs are underrepresented among the GP leadership. And this matters. 

It remains shocking to me that UK-educated black trainee CSA pass rates are 77% compared with 95% for white trainees. The GMC doesn’t distinguish between different non-white ethnic groups – which is controversial in itself – but as a group, UK-educated BAME GPs face more complaints, investigations etc than their white counterparts.

And we only need to see the reaction to PHE’s report on BAME workers to see how much it helped those it was supposed to help.

So what’s the solution to increasing black GP representation? That’s not an easy question to answer. But there is one reason for the lack of black GPs on the Power 50 that I omitted above – Pulse ourselves. We haven’t done enough to promote black voices, or forge links with groups representing black GPs, like we have with BAPIO, or BIDA for example. And we may need to look at the Power 50 methodology to look beyond the usual suspects for what constitutes power (though not this year – see below).

I am very happy to write for a profession that is diverse, and that this diversity is, on the whole, reflected in its leadership. However, as recent events have shown, while issues like the above continue, more can always be done.

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As we have mentioned in the print issue, we are changing how we do the Power 50 this year. We will be only focusing GPs who have never been in the Power 50 before, celebrating grassroots GPs for everything you have been doing during this pandemic and before. We will be releasing more information next week, but if you have someone you want to put forward now, email gpheroes@pulsetoday.co.uk (please note, the email address put in our print issues has been incorrect. Our apologies)

Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at editor@pulsetoday.co.uk