Hospital Dr News

New Charter aims to tackle the racial harassment of medical students

Medical schools are being called on to sign up to a new charter that aims to tackle the racial harassment of medical students.

It follows a joint BMA and BMJ investigation which finds more needs to be done to address “unacceptable barriers” which are stopping students from achieving their full potential.

It shows that out of 32 medicals schools in the UK that responded to a freedom of information request, only half said they collect data on students’ complaints about racism and racial harrassment.

The findings indicate high levels of underreporting as, among those that did collect the data, only 11 complaints were recorded since 2010/11.

This is despite an inquiry into racial harassment in UK universities, by the Equality and Human Rights Commission, which found around a quarter of BAME students said they had experienced racial harassment since starting their course.

The BMA is launching a charter aimed at ensuring medical schools can effectively prevent racial harassment and provide support for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) students.

Medical schools are being encouraged to sign up to the charter which offers guidance for best practice across four key areas which are in need of addressing:

  • supporting individuals to speak out;
  • ensuring robust processes for reporting and handling complaints;
  • mainstreaming equality, diversity and inclusion across the learning environment;
  • addressing racial harassment on work placements.

BMA medical students committee co-chair Gurdas Singh and BMA medical students committee deputy chair and welfare lead Stephen Naulls, said: “It is incredibly disheartening and frankly unacceptable that, after years of hard work to earn a place at medical school, medical students are still encountering racism.

“Racial harassment is a serious barrier to attainment and it is vital therefore that medical schools, as the first port of call for prospective doctors on their career path, deal with this effectively.

“Medical students must feel empowered to call out racism and bad behaviour and importantly, feel that these concerns will be listened to and dealt with effectively.”

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