White NHS doctors 'more likely to be promoted’

Research from the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has revealed that white doctors are more likely than black or minority ethnic medics to be promoted to consultant level.

The study found that, although they apply for fewer posts when seeking to become consultants, white British doctors were both more likely to be shortlisted than BME colleagues and also more likely to be offered a job.

The college’s survey revealed that white British doctors applied for an average of 1.29 consultant posts before being hired, compared to applicants from a BME background, who applied for 1.66 posts before succeeding. Of white medics, 80 per cent were shortlisted compared to 66 per cent of those from all other ethnic groups. Furthermore, while 77 per cent of white doctors succeeded in landing their first role as a consultant, only 57 per cent of those from all other ethnic groups did so.

Andrew Goddard, RCP president, said that an overhaul of consultant recruitment was urgently needed to give non-white medics a fair chance, with ‘unconscious bias’ within appointments panels leading to talented BME doctors being overlooked for promotion to the level of consultant.

Chaand Nagpaul, British Medical Association council chair, said: “This study is further confirmation of the unacceptable racial bias that exists within the NHS, and the barriers to progression faced by many black, Asian and minority ethnic doctors. Not only is this iniquitous, it is denying dedicated capable doctors from achieving their best in the NHS for the benefit of patients. Appointment to consultant posts should be based on merit alone so that patients can receive the highest standard of care possible from the most capable doctors.”

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