Survey raises concerns over equality and diversity in 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 according to the 2017 survey reporting the experiences of, and outcomes for, CCT holders conducted by the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow.

For several years in a row the survey has found that CCT holders who describe themselves as being of white British ethnicity apply for fewer posts, but are more likely to be shortlisted and offered a post. Black and minority ethnic (BME) women appear to be particularly disadvantaged. The RCP and other organisations are discussing how to respond to the findings. The RCP has also approached NHS England about its work led by Professor Malo Rao on workforce race equality and will work with her team to share the survey’s findings, better understand the issues and support this important project.

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.

Discrimination, conscious and unconscious, is an issue across our society. The NHS is no exception, as the NHS Equality and Diversity Council has shown.

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.

We look forward to working with NHS organisations, the GMC, other royal colleges and representative bodies such as the BMA to that end.

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.

Professor Andrew Goddard, RCP president

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said:

This report further restates the urgent need to address racial and gender inequality in the NHS. The challenges identified by physicians are shared by many of our other staff groups, and reinforce the vital work underway across the NHS to ensure that all the people working in our teams can bring the best of themselves to work every day to benefit our patients.

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.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the General Medical Council, said:

We welcome the publication of this report but echo concerns that for the third consecutive year results show that while BME doctors apply for more roles, they are less likely to be shortlisted and offered a post. We are pleased that steps are being taken to address these worrying findings through equality and diversity training for recruiters. It is important that everyone involved continues this work.

Carrie MacEwen, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, said:

The public and the medical profession must be confident that consultants are appointed based on equality of opportunity and merit – there is no room for discrimination.

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Notes to editors

For the survey, Medical CCT class of 2016: survey 2017 – how have they fared?, 935 CCT holders were contacted in August 2017 and we received 487 completed responses (52%). Fifty per cent of respondents were male and 19% of respondents trained less-than-full-time. Fifty per cent of respondents described their ethnicity as white British, 19% as Indian, 8% as white other than British, 5% as Pakistani and 5% as Chinese; all other ethnic groups each made up less than 5% of respondents.