Tackling racism in the NHS

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.314.7081.618 (Published 01 March 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:618

We need action not words

  1. Aneez Esmail, Vice president, Medical Practitioners' Uniona,
  2. Douglas Carnall, Editor, Career Focusb
  1. a 50 Southwark Street, London SE1 1UN
  2. b BMJ, London WC1H 9JR

    A BMA conference held last week to discuss racial discrimination in the medical profession highlighted a range of reports and publications written since 1987 that have documented the problem. Racial discrimination occurs at all levels in the medical profession, from applications to medical school,1 2 3 through the examination process,4 to job applications.5 6 It also affects the manner in which complaints are made against doctors.7 8 Our problem is not a lack of evidence but the lack of political will to tackle the problem.

    That racial discrimination within the medical profession is widespread is a view many doctors may find hard to accept. But it is an accusation that must be taken seriously. With 23% of the medical workforce and, in some medical schools, 30% of the current intake classifying themselves as ethnic minorities, the issue is not necessarily one of under-representation of ethnic minorities but of equal opportunities–potentially affecting a quarter of doctors in Britain.

    The problem of discrimination in the profession is first and foremost an ethical and moral issue, and, as a profession, we should …

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