Racism blights doctors' careers, shows UK health service survey

Royal College of Physicians says it is investigating the issue 'as a matter of urgency'

The issue of doctors' careers being blighted by racism is back in the spotlight after a UK survey revealed that white doctors are favoured when it comes to consultant job offers.

The finding comes just weeks after the country's National Health Service (NHS) revealed black and Asian doctors were earning thousands of pounds a year less than their white colleagues.

The latest Royal College of Physicians (RCP) survey of 487 graduates found that those from a white British background — half the graduates — were more likely to be shortlisted for a job than those from other ethnic groups (80% vs 66%) despite applying for fewer posts (1.29 vs 1.66).

They were also more successful at landing a job offer (77% vs 57%) than doctors from other ethnicities — 19% of whom were Indian and 5% Chinese, according to the survey released this week.

The findings had been consistent for several years in a row and sent a “clear warning signal”, the RCP stated in the survey report.

The college said it would investigate the situation “as a matter of urgency” while continuing to ensure all of its representatives receive equality and diversity training.

In a statement, RCP president Professor Andrew Goddard said the college would do everything it could to make sure the appointment of consultants was based solely on ability and was working with the NHS, the British Medical Association (BMA) and other colleges.

“Our concern is to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to reach their potential and the best doctors are appointed to the right jobs,” he said.

The latest furore followed an acknowledgement by the British Medical Association in September that black and doctors faced “unacceptable discrimination” in NHS pay levels — after data from NHS Digital on mean basic highlighted the following pay differences:

  • Black female doctors earned £801 ($1450) a month less than their white counterparts.
  • Asian female doctors earned £344 ($623) a month less than their white counterparts.
  • White male doctors earned £791 ($1432) more a month than their black colleagues and £298 ($539) a month more than Asian male doctors.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of BMA council, said the figures confirmed that black and ethnic minority doctors continued to face “unacceptable barriers, penalties and discrimination in the NHS".

The BMA would continue to campaign for all doctors to be treated equally, he told the BMJ.

 “The government and the NHS must take this issue seriously and tackle all forms of discrimination within the health service,” he addd.


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