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Racism acceptable in NHS, says BMA study

British Medical Association said racism is evident in access to medical training and careers, and is seen as "acceptable" in NHS.

india Updated: Dec 27, 2003 23:20 IST

A new survey by the British Medical Association (BMA) has found that racism is evident in access to medical training and careers,cThe report is a cause for concern among doctors from ethnic minorities, of which a large percentage is Indian.

With a growing dearth of doctors in the UK, the government is encouraging doctors from abroad but such a report does not augur well.

The report that was part of the BMA's research studying the careers of 500 medical students who qualified in 1995, found that 62 per cent of doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds believed race was a "significant" factor in their medical training.

The report also found that 70 per cent thought ethnicity played a "significant role" in early career opportunities, rising to 87 per cent for access to specialities and 86 per cent for career advancement. The BMA conducted another study of focus groups, involving 33 doctors. The results from both the survey and the focus groups proved "uncomfortable reading".

An Indian origin female doctor said: "The consultant I worked with for six months, did not know my name for the first four months.

"When asked by the theatre sister who was doing this hysterectomy he said: "The girl will be doing the hysterectomy. I can't remember funny foreign names.'"

Dr Vivienne Nathanson, the BMA's head of science and ethics, said: "Diversity exists in the medical profession, but individuals are not getting equitable opportunities."

Dr Nathanson, however, maintained that the situation could be altered. "Managers can take immediate steps to improve the situation. Shortlisting and appointment to medical training posts should be anonymised - this was called for around 10 years ago. Also, medical schools should introduce modules on cultural diversity in the undergraduate curriculum."

A British male agreed that being white did help him. "It's not what you know, it's who you know. Certainly in surgery. I know it helped me get the job that I'm in now, without a shadow of a doubt," he was quoted saying.

of a doubt," he was quoted saying.

First Published: Dec 24, 2003 21:35 IST