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Views And Reviews Acute Perspective

David Oliver: Racism in medicine—what ethnic minority doctors told me on Twitter

BMJ 2020; 368 doi: (Published 12 February 2020) Cite this as: BMJ 2020;368:m484

Read all of the articles in our special issue on Racism in Medicine

  1. David Oliver, consultant in geriatrics and acute general medicine
  1. Berkshire
  1. davidoliver372{at}
    Follow David on Twitter: @mancunianmedic

When my editor asked me to write a column for this issue, I was hesitant. As a white, male, middle class British doctor, what could I possibly say that was useful?

I could emphasise that I work alongside doctors, nurses, and allied professionals from ethnic minority backgrounds and that, without their commitment, our health and care services would collapse.

I could write about the data. For instance, 13.1% of the NHS workforce have non-British nationality,1 and 20.7% of NHS doctors are from ethnic minority backgrounds23—higher in general practice. Lower paid occupations such as social care rely even more on overseas and ethnic minority recruits.

I could describe the mismatch between their numbers in the rank and file and the number of doctors in high profile leadership positions. They don’t reflect the balance of the workforce in terms of gender or ethnicity. Speaker and panel line-ups at medical conferences, and expert media talking heads on …

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