Time for change as Black Lives Matter

We are committee members of DIMAH (Diversity in Medicine and Health), a national collaborative organisation in the UK. We write in response to Black Lives Matter movement and the international response to the police murder of George Floyd on 25 May 2020 in the USA.

DIMAH is committed to changing healthcare courses in the UK for the better. We aim to address institutional racism and work with Higher Education institutions by decolonising the curricula, improve diversity training for students and educators, and diversifying academia.

A clear message from the Black community and their allies is that, like the USA, the UK is also guilty of entrenched institutional and structural racism that regularly leads to the untimely deaths and unprosecuted murders of Black and minority ethnic people.

Black people are more than twice as likely to die in police custody. This violence against Black people is a public health issue. It is not a matter of individual transgression, and whilst perpetrators must be brought to justice, prosecution will not be enough to save the lives of future victims of racist violence.

Furthermore, the NHS and medical profession are not innocent. For example,

  • There are 3.7 times more Black Caribbean mental health patients than white British patients.
  • Black mental health patients, like David “Rocky” Bennett, have died due to restraint practices in hospital. Rocky was restrained for 25 minutes by at least 5 nurses until he died.
  • Black patients are more likely to die in hospital.
  • Black women are five times more likely to die during childbirth.
  • Black patients are 50% less likely to receive pain medication.
  • The recent Covid 19 pandemic has shone a light on these health inequalities further, and yet any analysis of the reasons why remains unreported by the current government.

The NHS Staff Survey shows it is more likely that….

  • White shortlisted applicants will be appointed than BME ones;
  • BME staff will be disciplined than white staff
  • BME staff will be bullied by colleagues and managers but, not more likely that they will be bullied by members of the public.
  • BME staff will be victimised for raising concerns and less lightly to be thanked, even though it benefits the patients.

(Thank you Melanin Medics for their help with above, they have an excellent statement https://www.melaninmedics.com/post/racial-injustice-medicine-is-not-exempt)

Eradicating racism is about knowledge, representation and practices, and everyone taking responsibility for these.

It is time for a concerted and collaborative effort to make a sizeable shift within the medical profession and medical education towards tackling racism and inequality. We are proposing to write to the GMC as the regulator of medical schools and ask them what strategies they are going to put in place ensure that all medical schools are effectively tackling racial harassment,decolonising their curricula ,addressing the attainment gap and setting up support structures for black students who have been disproportionally effected by Covid.