Take part in the BMA's BAME forums

by Chaand Nagpaul

The effects COVID-19 has had on BAME doctors has been disproportionate – and the BMA has launched a forum to tackle the issue

Location: UK
Published: Friday 5 February 2021
Chaand Nagpaul

Last week was a defining moment in the BMA’s history as we launched our first ever BAME (black, Asian and minority ethnic) national forum and BAME regional networks.

To accompany the launch, we produced a special video highlighting the BMA’s commitment and recent work to build a more equal and inclusive NHS which you can watch here

A video recording of the launch event is now also live on our specially created BAME forum webpage.

The forum was born out of a calling from grassroots members following last year’s Black Lives Matter protests and the devastating toll COVID-19 has taken on ethnic minority communities and healthcare workers. Nine out of 10 doctors who have died of the virus came from a BAME background.

We were fortunate to have excellent keynote speakers for this important landmark event. Baroness Doreen Lawrence discussed her report for the Labour Party on COVID-19’s disproportionate effect on BAME communities, An Avoidable Crisis, and its recommendations to address structural racism affecting the health of BAME people and those working in the health service.

Doyin Atewologun and Roger Kline discussed their GMC-commissioned Fair to Refer report on why ethnic minority doctors are more than twice as likely to be referred for disciplinary processes and the importance of addressing race inequality in the NHS and in wider society. They set out valuable ideas as to how the BMA can support redressing this inequity.

The national BAME forum is underpinned by:

  • Regional BAME networks in each English region, with two members from each region elected to sit on the national forum
  • National networks in Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland, with members from each nation elected to sit on the national forum
  • Elected leads from branches of practice who sit on the national forum.

I was clear in my opening remarks that this forum must speak on behalf of the everyday BAME member and be driven by the grassroots – so that they can feel supported knowing that their professional association and trade union has their back. To bring in new grassroot voices, we required that elected representatives from regions should not previously have held any national elected BMA role.

It was therefore particularly positive to see so many new faces articulating insights and, most importantly, recommendations for positive change at our first forum meeting.

The forum will also feed into the BMA’s implementation of our member services review, so that we as an association can ensure we provide the best possible service to meet the needs of BAME members who turn to us at times of difficulty.

The regional networks will provide BAME doctors on the ground with a collective local voice to advocate and challenge, and the national forum will give the BMA greater strength to work with and influence stakeholders and the Government.

The forum is, further, an opportunity to raise the profile and celebrate the immense talent, dedication, and contribution of BAME doctors in our NHS.

Ultimately, the national forum, supported by regional networks, has been established to achieve tangible positive change. It must be a driver of progress so that we can finally see an end to the inequalities that have plagued our health service for far too long and a future in which doctors from a BAME background feel respected and valued, feel free to speak out without recrimination, have equal opportunity to progress in their careers, and are treated fairly in their workplace.

If you are a member of a BAME background, please join your regional network if you have not already done so – details are available on BAME forum webpage here

Do get involved and be part of the change!

Chaand Nagpaul is BMA council chair