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BME applicants less likely than white to be appointed consultant

Survey results ‘clear warning signal’ we must act immediately on discrimination, say Royal Colleges

Louise Prime

Tuesday, 06 November 2018

Black and minority ethnic (BME) trainee doctors, especially women, are less likely than those of white ancestry to be shortlisted for a consultant post and offered the job at the end of their training even though they apply for more posts, according to the latest figures. Royal Colleges have said the findings are a ‘clear warning’ that there is an urgent need to address racial and gender inequality in the NHS – and insisted the public must be able to feel confident that doctors are appointed based on merit.

The Royal College of Physicians (RCP) medical workforce unit has just published the results of the 2017 survey of medical certificate of completion of training (CCT) holders’ career progression. The survey, conducted in collaboration with the Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board (JRCPTB), reports the experiences of, and outcomes for, CCT holders within one year of gaining their CCT.

The RCP reported* that, as in the previous year’s survey, CCT holders who described themselves as being of white British ethnicity (50% of respondents) appeared to:

  • apply for fewer posts (mean 1.29 versus 1.66 for all other ethnic groups)
  • be more likely to be shortlisted (80% versus 66% for all other ethnic groups)
  • be more successful at being offered a post (77% versus 57% for all other ethnic groups).
Furthermore, it found, BME women appear to be particularly disadvantaged.

Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, insisted: “The public and the medical profession must be confident that consultants are appointed based on equality of opportunity and merit – there is no room for discrimination.”

The College said its concern is to ensure that everyone has the same opportunity to reach their potential, with the best doctors appointed to the right jobs – yet conscious and unconscious discrimination are problems across our society, not just in the NHS.

RCP president professor Andrew Goddard promised that the College would investigate the situation as a matter of urgency, and said: “These findings are a clear warning signal that we need to investigate further and take immediate action. It is imperative that we do everything we can to make sure the appointment of consultants is based solely on ability… We believe that will lead to a much more diverse workforce that reflects the community it serves.”

NHS Employers’ chief executive Danny Mortimer added: “This report further restates the urgent need to address racial and gender inequality in the NHS. The challenges identified by physicians are shared by many of our other staff groups.”

*Medical CCT class of 2016 Survey 2017: how have they fared? Royal College of Physicians, Joint Royal Colleges of Physicians Training Board. October 2018.

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