Letters Tackling racial discrimination in the NHS

Political parties must tackle racial discrimination against staff and patients

BMJ 2014; 349 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.g5212 (Published 19 August 2014) Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5212
  1. Jagtar Dhanda, head of inclusion1
  1. 1Macmillan Cancer Support, London SE1 7UQ, UK
  1. jdhanda{at}macmillan.org.uk

Macmillan Cancer Support agrees with Roger Kline’s assertion in Limb’s news article that the treatment of black and minority ethnic staff in the NHS is a good predictor of patient experience among all patients.1 Research carried out for Macmillan by the Picker Institute shows that in hospital trusts where clinical staff report the highest rates of discrimination, patients with cancer are up to 18 times more likely to report a poor quality experience during their hospital compared with trusts with the lowest rates of discrimination.2 3

The 2013 NHS staff survey shows that around one in five (19%) black and minority ethnic hospital staff had experienced racial discrimination in the previous 12 months, compared with just one in 50 (2%) white staff.4 With this new report,1 these figures remind us that racism and discrimination in the NHS are serious issues that the government and NHS leaders must tackle.

The upcoming general election is the perfect opportunity to achieve genuine, widespread change for both patients and staff. In their manifestos, political parties should commit to ensuring that all patients with cancer are treated with the greatest dignity and respect and that staff are supported to deliver this. If we are serious about ensuring patients are at the heart of the NHS, all staff must have the training and support they need to be caring, compassionate, and committed.


Cite this as: BMJ 2014;349:g5212


  • Competing interests: None declared.


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