To tackle racial bias the health service needs a ‘wholesale cultural transformation’ and the GMC must look harder at its own processes

by Media office

Press release from BMA

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 7 June 2023

Responding to the General Medical Council’s Equality, diversity and inclusion progress update, Dr Latifa Patel, representative body chair and equality lead, said:

“The BMA has long raised concerns about the discrimination and racial bias that damages many ethnic minority doctors’ medical careers. Our members tell us that they experience indignity, unfairness, and discrimination on a daily basis whilst working in the NHS, and also hold deep concerns about discrimination and racial bias within the GMC’s own processes. So while it is encouraging that the GMC are pointing to evidence of progress it must look harder at its own fitness to practise processes and decision making if it is truly to tackle the systemic racism affecting doctors working across the UK.

“The fact is that the health service does not treat its own workforce equally and this report, importantly, acknowledges that equality, diversity, and inclusion must be a top priority within organisations across the entire health system. However as our doctors’ regulator, the GMC should not underestimate the role it has in improving the wider culture in the NHS.

“Doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds make up almost 50% of the medical workforce and the very existence of the NHS would not be possible without the continued commitment of these doctors. Doctors for whom racism has for too long been allowed to play havoc with their lives and careers. We’re now at a point we’re almost a third of ethnic minority doctors have left or are considering leaving the NHS due to experiences of racism. The BMA and our doctors will no longer tolerate discrimination and bias and while it’s good to have GMC targets what’s needed is wholesale cultural transformation in our NHS, where there is a commitment to equal opportunity and enabling each doctor to progress and achieve their full potential.”

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.