The urgent need to combat racism in UK healthcare system

recent report reveals that 60% of individuals belonging to racial minority groups experience either blatant or concealed racism within England’s NHS system. What specific forms of racial bias are evident in the UK’s healthcare system? Additionally, to what extent does discrimination impact minority patients within the UK NHS?

From Illness to Injustice: Revealing the Dark Side of British Healthcare

The prevalence of bias against minority patients within the UK NHS is rising. According to Adrian James, the Director of the College of Psychiatrists in England, institutional racism within England’s NHS negatively impacts patients and has resulted in healthcare professionals leaving the institution. He expresses concern that employers are notably sluggish in addressing instances of employee harassment within this sector.


Unfair legal gaps in the UK healthcare system

The discrimination faced by minority patients within the UK NHS is deeply concerning. This issue has brought to light inequities in ethnic salary differences, unevenness in disciplinary measures, and the underrepresentation of ethnic minority physicians in leadership roles. In a recent survey conducted by the college involving 233 ethnic minority doctors, it was revealed that 58% of them reported encountering either explicit or subtle forms of racism in their workplace earlier this year.


The impact of medical racism on people’s health

Among those who had encountered racism, over a quarter (29%) stated that it had impacted their well-being, and four out of every ten (41%) mentioned that it had also influenced patients or caregivers. Interestingly, a majority (55%) indicated that reporting instances of racial discrimination had not led to any change in their circumstances.

Racism in the payment system of doctors

NHS data further reveals that medical professionals from ethnic minority backgrounds receive an average of 7% lower compensation than their white counterparts, and they constitute just 20% of the medical leadership roles, despite comprising 42% of the total medical workforce in the UK. The head of the British College of Psychiatrists emphasized that this situation negatively impacts both patients and colleagues, stressing that racism is a distressing aspect within the NHS. This stain of racism not only affects mental health but exacerbates pre-existing mental health conditions as well.


Racial prejudice in the UK healthcare system

The survey findings indicate that 65% of individuals from black backgrounds in the UK have encountered racial bias from medical professionals and other caregivers. This sheds light on discriminatory practices within the nation’s healthcare system. An examination of human rights, particularly the issue of racism in the UK, presents similarly discouraging figures concerning racial prejudice and discrimination within the country’s healthcare system.


Systematic racism against Blacks in the UK

The Black Equity Organisation, which was launched in early 2022 to fight systemic racism in the UK, has shown in a survey that most black people living in this country have been prejudiced and discriminated against by healthcare professionals because of their ethnicity.

According to the survey results conducted among 2,051 black or mixed-race citizens (more than half of whom are between 18 and 34), 65 per cent of blacks said doctors and other healthcare workers treated them. Racial prejudices have occurred. This rate reaches 75% among blacks aged 18 to 34.


Long waiting times for people of colour for medical services

In its analytical report from August 2022, The Guardian brought attention to this matter and stated, “Examination of 126,000 cases spanning a decade reveals that black and Asian individuals experience extended waiting times for diagnosis compared to white individuals.”

The report further emphasized, “Prior investigations had already demonstrated that ethnic minority patients in England encounter poorer outcomes in certain cancer cases and are less likely to share positive healthcare experiences.”


UK government’s fruitless promises to deal with racism

Research has revealed that the waiting period for specific cancer types, such as oesophagal or stomach cancer, spans 53 days for white individuals, while it extends to 100 days for individuals of Asian descent, constituting a time disparity of over six weeks. In the case of diagnosing myeloma, a form of blood cancer ranking as the third most prevalent, white individuals in the UK encounter a wait time of 93 days, whereas black individuals in the country endure a prolonged wait of 127 days, surpassing a month’s difference.

The report emphasizes, “Delays in diagnosis may result in fewer treatment alternatives, and initiating treatment later could reduce its effectiveness, consequently diminishing survival prospects. Earlier research has highlighted that ethnic minority patients in England experience inferior outcomes about specific cancers and are less likely to share positive healthcare experiences.”


Racial inequality in cancer diagnosis in the UK healthcare system

Research shows that racial disparity in cancer diagnosis in the UK puts black lives at risk. A new study in the UK reported racial inequality in the country’s health care system and the resulting dangers for blacks. According to Guardian, research shows that cancer in blacks is diagnosed 38% less than whites through the screening system. After examining 240,000 cancer patients over the past decade, the study announced that 8.61% of patients discovered their disease through screening.


Black people’s ignorance of cancer symptoms

Breaking down the data by ethnic groups, the percentage was 8.27 for white individuals, which closely aligns with the national average, and 5.11 for black individuals. The results revealed that black individuals were 38% less likely than their white counterparts to receive a cancer diagnosis through screening.

Experts attribute this discrepancy to systemic barriers influenced by racism within the treatment system and a lack of awareness among black individuals regarding cancer symptoms.


Black doctors seek to quit their jobs

The survey showed that the UK’s public health service may lose a third of its black and Asian doctors due to racist structures and attitudes.

According to the Independent, the results of a significant survey show that about 60% of Asian doctors and 57% of black doctors in the structure of the NHS consider racism to be an obstacle to career advancement.


Mass immigration of doctors due to racism

According to this survey, the NHS faces a significant exodus of doctors from ethnic minority backgrounds due to ongoing racism at both personal and organizational levels.

Nearly a third of the surveyed doctors are considering leaving the UK public health service or have left it in the last two years due to racial discrimination, such that 42% of black doctors and 41% of Asian doctors, respectively. They have thought about quitting their jobs.


Lacking a complete understanding of the full scope of racism in the UK

The fact that a considerable number of respondents refrained from reporting instances of racism, either due to concerns of being wrongly blamed or dismissed as bothersome or due to doubts about the efficacy of the investigation process, is deeply concerning.

This situation results in medical professionals enduring the effects of discrimination in silence, and consequently, the full scale of racism remains concealed and unresolved. The survey uncovered a substantial underreporting of racism within the UK’s NHS, with 71% of those who had directly encountered racism choosing not to disclose the incidents to anyone.

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