BMA launches racism in medicine survey

by Chaand Nagpaul

The association asks people to share instances where they have experienced racism in the workplace to understand how widespread it is

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 28 October 2021

Today marks the launch of the BMA’s first ever racism in medicine survey. This comes on the back of the BMA’s immense work to date championing race equality and lobbying for real change. I am grateful to our members for helping us and supporting our mission.

We are at a pivotal moment in the fight against racism. Across the UK, and globally, racism and its harmful effects are being discussed in a way that we have never seen before. From the outrage following the appalling murder of George Floyd to the tragic and disproportionate mortality rate of ethnic minorities from COVID-19.

Within medicine, it is clear that there is a long way yet to go. Doctors from a black and ethnic minority background continue to face disadvantage, a worse experience in the workplace, poorer career progression and an ethnicity pay gap. A recent BMJ-published study found that white doctors applying for medical posts in London were six times more likely to be successful than black applicants.

The recently published Medical Workforce Race Equality Standard 2020 report further found that: 'Across almost all indicators, BME doctors reported a worse experience at work compared to white doctors. This trend is seen across the whole career path from medical school to consultant level.'

This is not OK. It’s time we change this unacceptable situation, for the benefit of all doctors, the NHS and society as whole.

Our survey is:

  • Solutions focused. We are asking respondents to share examples of how racism you have witnessed or experienced was dealt with effectively, or of ways in which workplaces have developed positive workplace cultures
  • Wide-ranging. The survey should give us a deeper and more nuanced picture of how racism is being perpetrated in the NHS, its link to structural causes, and its impacts than is provided by the NHS Staff Survey
  • We are asking respondents about their gender, religion, sexual orientation, disability, place of primary medical qualification, and specialty. This will allow us a more granular understanding of what is happening. We know that there is no such thing as a homogenous group of ‘BAME’ doctors
  • Open to doctors from all ethnicities, BMA members and non-members. We want to hear from you if you have experienced, and/or witnessed racism in medical workplaces
  • Part of a significant campaign. We have recently commissioned a major research project into barriers to career progression for ethnic minority doctors – you can sign up to focus groups. The findings of this project, alongside the findings of this survey, will inform the development of overarching recommendations to government.

The BMA has never before done a dedicated survey of this nature. Capturing the views of doctors from all ethnic groups will give us a full picture of the impact of racism on individual doctors and the wider implications on the workforce.

I know that engaging with discussions about racism and sharing your experiences, can be tiring, frustrating and deeply painful. I want to assure you that your participation will not go in vain. We will be acting on the evidence we receive.

Time, and time again, our members have given up their time to help progress race equality in the NHS – from the students who met with their deans to lobby on our racial harassment charter, to the members of our BAME National Forum and regional networks, and those sharing their stories for Black History Month (see Nana Ohene-Darkoh and Dr Agbim’s blogs). There are countless examples, and you are all appreciated.

Thank you for your support of the BMA’s work to tackle race inequalities in the NHS. Please complete the survey and share widely with your networks. With your voices, we can make a difference.  

Chaand Nagpaul is BMA council chair

Fill out the survey

BMA racism in medicine survey

Additionally, if you are a doctor from a black or ethnic minority background, please join you regional BMA BAME network. You will be part of a community of peers, giving you a voice, advocacy, support, as well as being able to influence BMA national policy.