Junior doctors and NHS staff hold placards during a strike outside St Thomas' Hospital in London, UK [File: Toby Melville/Reuters]

British ethnic minority students racially harassed: BMA

Medical body reports discrimination on campus and workplace, as NHS says white job applicants likelier to succeed.

London, United Kingdom - British ethnic minority students experience racial harassment on campus and during work experience, the British Medical Association (BMA) has warned.

In an investigation, the association also found that while minorities were represented in number in the student body - comprising 40 percent of medical undergraduates nationwide, only 13 percent of teaching staff were from non-white backgrounds.


In an attempt to address the issue, the BMA on Thursday issued guidance to medical schools on racial harassment.

Chaand Nagpaul, the BMA's chair of council, wrote in a foreword: "Two-fifths of them (medical students) are from Black, Asian or other minority ethnic (BAME) backgrounds. 

"However, we know that sadly their experiences may not live up to expectations, with many experiencing greater levels of undermining behaviour, microaggressions, and racial harassment.

"Such behaviour damages self-esteem and confidence, affects learning, and contributes to the ethnic attainment gap that emerges through medical education and training."

At a BMA launch event in London, Lord Victor Adebowale, chief executive at Turning Point, a social care organisation, said: "Academia is about relationships. If you're black you're not in the loop. Medical schools need to be put under the same levels of scrutiny that we put other organisations under." 

Jyoti Baharani, a London-based consultant in nephrology, said on Twitter that it was a "pity we still have to debate this in 2020. But unfortunately racism in medicine still exists. Try being a coloured doctor in the NHS sometime."

According to the NHS's Workforce Race Equality Standard 2019 report, published on Thursday, white job applicants were 1.46 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting compared with minority applicants.

"[In 85 percent of NHS trusts], white applicants were more likely to be appointed from shortlisting compared to BME applicants," the report said.

London had the highest proportion of ethnic minority staff in the NHS, the report said - 44 percent, while the lowest was in the southwest region.