Hospital Dr News

Survey raises concerns over equality and diversity in NHS consultant appointments

White trainee doctors are applying for fewer consultant posts at the end of their training than black and minority ethnic (BME) trainees but are more likely to be shortlisted and offered a post.

That’s the finding of a survey by the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

The ninth annual survey reporting the experiences of certificate of completion of training (CCT) holders within one year of gaining their CCT finds that black and minority ethnic (BME) women appear to be particularly disadvantaged.

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president, 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.

“Our concern is to make sure that everyone has the same opportunity to reach their potential, and the best doctors are appointed to the right jobs. We believe that will lead to a much more diverse workforce that reflects the community it serves.”

The Royal College of Physicians and other organisations – the GMC and BMA – are discussing how to respond to the findings, and have approached NHS England over the issue.

Dr Kathy McLean, Executive Medical Director and Chief Operating Officer at NHS Improvement, said: “Building a diverse workforce is key to the NHS delivering an inclusive health service and improving care for patients. NHS trusts should ensure their recruitment promotes diversity, equality and inclusiveness at all levels.

“To support this, we have created a new Chief People Officer role for the NHS and we will be working more closely with Health Education England to improve leadership development and people management across the service.”

Other findings from the study include:

  • 67% of the class of 2016 certificate of completion of training (CCT) holders had gained a substantive post by August the following year, which is a significant improvement on recent years and is likely to reflect consultant shortages in many specialties.
  • 18% of trainees reported difficulty in transitioning from trainee to consultant. This was associated with younger consultants, a white ethnic background, certain specialties (geriatrics, haematology, palliative medicine), the quality of training, and regrets about choosing to train in their specialty.
  • 56% of CCT holders who were in a substantive post were offered mentoring. An encouraging 75% of those took it up and an impressive 92% found it helpful. Mentoring should clearly be made available to all newly appointed consultants.
  • 59% of CCT holders who trained in general internal medicine (GIM) reported ‘acting up’ during their training to undertake a post-take ward round (with their consultant simply watching to give feedback). 99.7% recommended it to other trainees. This opportunity should be made available to all trainees in general internal medicine.
  • 93% of CCT holders reported that they would train in their specialty if they had the chance to undertake their training period again. Worryingly, only 53% reported that they would train in GIM again.

Read the full study.

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