GMC targets are good, but wider cultural transformation needed in NHS to support ethnic minority doctors, says BMA

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 18 May 2021
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Responding to targets announced by the General Medical Council1 to eliminate disproportionate complaints from employers about ethnic minority doctors and to remove disadvantage and discrimination in medical education and training, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA council chair, said:

“The BMA has long raised concerns about the unequal way that ethnic minority doctors are treated in the workplace. This valuable group of clinicians are the backbone of the NHS, making up almost half of the medical workforce, yet they continue to face unacceptable discrimination.

“It is disturbing that ethnic minority doctors face referrals for fitness-to-practise processes at twice the rate of their white colleagues. BMA surveys show that ethnic minority doctors are twice as likely to say that bullying is a problem in their workplace, and they are less likely to raise concerns due to fears of being inappropriately blamed, or it negatively affecting their career progression.

“A referral to the GMC can have a devastating psychological impact on a doctor, creating huge anxiety and stress and even mental illness, adding to the negative experience for many ethnic minority doctors within their workplace. It is vital that efforts are made to address issues at an earlier stage, with ethnic minority doctors receiving fair and adequate support to avoid such issues being unnecessarily escalated.

“It is equally unacceptable that pass rates in postgraduate training are lower among ethnic minority doctors than for their white counterparts, with evidence showing this is not related to any lack of ability, but due to a lack of support for learning, and feeling excluded. This impacts on their career progression, job satisfaction and contributes to a manifest ethnicity pay gap.

“It is good that the GMC has set these targets to end this clear structural inequality afflicting ethnic minority doctors. However, this cannot be achieved by simply chasing targets, but by wholesale genuine cultural transformation in our NHS, where there is a full commitment to equal opportunity and enabling each doctor to progress and achieve their full potential. We must no longer tolerate a health service in which dedicated doctors, working tirelessly against the odds are disadvantaged and discriminated against.

“Only a system and culture that is inclusive and fair to doctors regardless of their background can truly deliver its best for patients.”


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.

  1. Please contact the GMC for full details.