Intended for healthcare professionals

Views And Reviews

The NHS owes doctors who trained abroad an apology for racism

BMJ 2018; 361 doi: (Published 31 May 2018) Cite this as: BMJ 2018;361:k2360

Re: The NHS owes doctors who trained abroad an apology for racism

The incidents described here by Dr Menon unfortunately reflect the very real – and completely unacceptable – experience of many foreign-born and BME doctors working in the NHS in the last century, and it is regretful that the establishment did not historically take steps to identify and address the issue of racism more seriously. Overseas doctors have been the backbone of many services in the NHS’s history, and have worked in hard to fill posts and unpopular areas in the UK, and the health service owes them an enormous debt of gratitude.

In recent years, there has been some improvement in recognising racial bias, with systems introduced to address concerns. However, there is still much more to be done. Despite the enormous contribution these doctors make to our health service, they remain underrepresented in top posts. BME staff are also still twice as likely to be affected by discrimination at work and are at increased risk of experiencing bullying and harassment from both colleagues and patients.

Furthermore, BME doctors are more likely to be referred to the GMC, have their cases investigated and face tougher sanctions than their white colleagues.

While these inequalities may be widely acknowledged, what is needed now is concerted action to bring about change.

This is why the BMA will be holding a summit in July bringing together BME doctors, medical students and medical leaders with key stakeholders and experts to come up with clear recommendations and actions to tackle and eradicate continuing racial bias in the NHS.

Competing interests: No competing interests

01 June 2018
Dr Chaand Nagpaul
BMA council chair
BMA House, Tavistock Square, London WC1H 9JP