Doctors have today called on the Government to act now to address health inequalities and racism in the NHS and across the UK, with the Covid-19 pandemic and Black Lives Matter movement highlighting its importance.
At the British Medical Association’s Annual Representative meeting1 today, delegates passed a motion2 calling on the Government to increase funding to tackle ethnic, geographic, and gender equalities and to remove the barriers to progression for those from BAME backgrounds.
BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:
“The Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement has clearly demonstrated the importance of addressing health inequalities and racism in the UK and the NHS.
“This comes at a time when the Government has been dragging their feet over the implementation of the PHE report into the disproportionate impact of Covid-19 for people from Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic backgrounds (BAME).
“This is why the BMA has called for increased funding for public health to tackle ethnic, geographic and gender inequalities following sustained cuts. Greater recording and analysis of ethnicity within the NHS is also crucial going forward, as the pandemic has shone an important, albeit alarming, light on the tragic disproportionate impact on BAME communities and healthcare workers.
“Removing barriers to progression is a crucial part of tackling inequalities which the BMA believes begins with addressing the educational barriers facing BAME school children. This must also be reflected in the workplace with the need for diversity in leadership to build an inclusive culture. As such the BMA believes it is right that all NHS trust and organisation boards should be reflective of the ethnic make-up of the organisation they manage, alongside transparent recruitment and promotion systems across all NHS organisations.
“Addressing the structural inequalities and systemic biases that exist within the NHS is absolutely crucial and one key step for improvement is facilitating the progression of doctors from minority ethnic or under-represented groups through a mentorship scheme.
“This is not just making a few small changes; this is about changing the entire system for the better. A change that will mean doctors in years to come will not face the same barriers as many others have and continue to face. The Government has a moral imperative to address these inequalities and act now.”
Notes to editors
The BMA is a 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.
The decision to pass ARM motion 43 and support the Black Lives Matter movement and its overarching aim to eradicate all racism and injustices faced by Black people across the world was taken by the BMA’s Representative Body. It is not an endorsement of specific organisations or tactics. The BMA interprets this motion, as we believe the vast majority of Representative Body delegates did during the ARM vote, to refer to the broader ‘movement’ rather than support for any single organisation.
- For full information and to watch the event visit bma.org.uk/arm2020
- The full wording of the motion is as below:
Motion by CONFERENCE OF HONORARY SECRETARIES OF BMA DIVISIONS AND REGIONAL COUNCILS: That this meeting believes the Covid-19 pandemic and the Black Lives Matter movement has demonstrated the importance of addressing health inequalities and racism in the UK. This conference calls for:-
i) increased funding for public health to tackle ethnic, geographic and gender inequalities in the UK; PASSED
ii) greatly improved recording and analysis of ethnicity in the NHS; PASSED
iii) specific action based on culturally sensitive research to address the health, social and educational problems caused to Black, Asian and minority ethnic schoolchildren and make recommendations to reduce these inequalities; PASSED
iv) all NHS trust and organisation boards should reflect the ethnic make-up of the workforce of the organisation which they manage; PASSED
v) every person involved in NHS recruitment should have training on diversity and unconscious bias; PASSED
vi) a mentorship scheme for Black, Asian and minority ethnic NHS managers and clinical leaders should be developed; PASSED
vii) there should be transparent recruitment and promotion systems in all NHS organisations; PASSED