Delivering racial equality in medicine

Our report examines the causes and current extent of race inequality in the health service and medical profession, and makes recommendations on how this must be addressed.

Discrimination crossed out circle illustration

About our work

This report is the latest stage in BMA’s programme of work aimed at understanding the causes of racial inequality in the medical profession. It proposes effective solutions to address racial inequality to ensure a future NHS that is equitable, fair, and inclusive for all healthcare workers and patients.

Key report findings

  • Racism is pervasive within medicine both at a personal and institutional level and this is having a direct impact on doctor retention. Over three quarters (76%) of respondents experienced racism in their workplace on at least one occasion in the last two years.
  • Ethnic minorities experience institutional barriers to career progression despite making up 41.9% of the medical workforce (53,157 as of 2020).
  • Doctors are experiencing racial discrimination from colleagues and patients, and this is significantly under-reported due to perceptions of negative repercussions. There is also a lack of support from institutions in reporting racist behaviour.
  • This issue is causing a growing mental health burden on ethnic minority doctors.

Our recommendations

Recommendations from our report include:

  • being explicit about the need for change: initiatives to achieve racial equality must always be presented with a strong explanation for the need for change and the benefits to the individual and collective (patients and doctors), the organisation and the medical profession
  • improving racial literacy: medical education must be tailored to meet the needs of the ethnically diverse UK population
  • improving reporting processes: employers and managers should listen to staff who experience racial discrimination and have policies in place to support everyone who witnesses and experiences discrimination, bullying and harassment to report it
  • investment in root cause analysis and evaluation of interventions: all quality assurance measures for employers in the NHS should include consideration of staff experiences and other indicators by ethnicity
  • increasing accountability: regulators, all IMG doctors should be given access to appropriate induction at a local level – and access to ongoing support - to ensure patient safety and that IMG doctors have an equal start to their UK practice.


Race equality in medicine

Watch the webinar: Delivering racial equality in medicine
Watch the webinar: Delivering racial equality in medicine
We cannot afford to lose more doctors because of racism. Equality is essential for the very survival of our healthcare system.
British Medical Association
Hear the experiences of staff who faced racial discrimination and bullying
Hear the experiences of staff who faced racial discrimination and bullying