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BME doctors underrepresented in senior NHS positions, report shows

Care staff

By Beth Gault
22 July 2021

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Black and minority ethnic (BME) doctors are underrepresented in consultant, clinical director and medical director roles, according to a new report into race equality in the NHS.  

The medical workforce race equality standard report was published this week after being commissioned by NHS chief executive Simon Stevens to look into race equality among England’s doctors.  

It found that in 2020, 26.4% of clinical directors and just over one fifth (20.3%) of medical directors were from a BME background. 

It said this was ‘significantly less’ than 41.9% of all doctors in NHS trusts and CCGs who are from a BME background.  

However, it added that the 41.9% (53,000) was an increase of 9,000 doctors (20%) from 2017.  

The data also showed that BME medical and dental staff earn an average of 7% less (£4,310) per year than their white colleagues, with the biggest gap among consultants. This was found to have implications across lifetime earnings and pensions.  

The report made several recommendations, including overhauling the consultant recruitment policy, being more transparent on promotion, pay and reward processes, and calling on medical schools and royal colleges to take more steps to increase diversity in the NHS.  

This included requesting the publication of a breakdown on the percentage of BME staff on royal colleges’ elected councils.  

It said: ‘The MWRES is intended to be a regular data collection and publication. More importantly it is intended to hold a mirror up to NHS trusts, the medical royal colleges and other agencies, with a view to stimulating action to address the race inequalities within the sphere of influence of these organisations.  

‘The scale of the challenge to eliminate racism and discrimination in the medical workforce is located in the complex landscape of linked institutions and the race inequality which is baked into their structures and systems. But all stakeholders are already playing an active role to address these barriers and to drive positive change.’ 

Prerana Issar, chief people officer for the NHS, said: ‘While it is pleasing that ever increasing numbers of people from a BME background are choosing to become doctors and join our NHS, there is much more the NHS and other health bodies can do to improve representation and experiences for BME people. 

‘As part of our people plan we have committed to support NHS organisations to make workplaces even more inclusive and compassionate, while it is also important that our partners in medical schools, Royal Colleges and other organisations take the steps required to improve experience of staff from a BME background.’ 

Earlier this year it was reported that one in 10 BME CCG staff members personally experienced discrimination from a manager or other colleague between 2017 and 2019.   

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