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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

Several decades on the racism is more subtle but equally pernicious affecting morale among doctors, nurses, radiographers to name a few of the many groups of health workers. Patients also take to displaying racist behaviour by putting pressure on BME staff to try and get their appointments brought forward, scans reported in time, get operations undertaken on time in the cash strapped NHS. There is perhaps more of a response from the managers, than say, twenty years ago, when a doctor complains of racist bullying. However equal opportunities to BME doctors and nurses in particular is still to be addressed adequately.

Prejudices against doctors from the subcontinent continues. Despite the sterling service by this group to patients in the UK, this group still suffers both as NHS staff and patients. The widespread disparity in the provision of health services, eg. access to specialised care in and around Birmingham is a case in point. Management both centrally and locally in the NHS needs to be sensitised to the issue. Tokenism is rampant among various bodies in terms of BME representation. CEA awards have repeatedly proven the bias against BME doctors. It is approximately 5 times as hard for a BME doctor to obtain a CEA award than a white doctor. There is no transparency in the local awards despite requests to broadcast the names of awardees every year. An apology from the NHS would be a good start. Financial compensation for the suffering by BME doctors is absolutely necessary to focus minds and move matters forward.

Competing interests: I am BME

11 June 2018
Sanjay Vydianath
Consultant radiologist
The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust