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Last Updated: Sunday, 27 June, 2004, 15:22 GMT 16:22 UK
NHS doctors 'face discrimination'
Group of doctors
The government is trying to stamp out discrimination in the NHS
Doctors working in the NHS face discrimination because of their race, gender and sexual orientation, according to a report.

The British Medical Association (BMA) says doctors with disabilities also come up against barriers.

In many cases, they are discriminated against by other doctors working in the health service.

The findings are published ahead of the BMA's annual representative meeting which starts on Monday.

The report is based on interviews with 25 doctors - six from ethnic minorities, four women, seven with disabilities and eight who are gay, lesbian or bisexual.

Career obstacles

The ethnic minority doctors all came from overseas. They said they had faced obstacles in their career.

They cited a lack of information over how they could take up jobs in the UK and being passed over for jobs in favour of white candidates.

The report makes uncomfortable reading
Dr George Rae,
British Medical Association
"Twice I was discriminated against 'white' candidates," said one unnamed doctor. "First was for a registrar job in a teaching hospital and then for senior registrar job in the 1990s."

The women questioned said they often found it difficult to climb up the career ladder. Many said the were discriminated against because of their gender.

One unnamed female doctor said: "I had to work for one who I knew was completely opposed to women."

The doctors with disabilities had similar complaints.

"If you have a weakness you keep it hidden," said one doctor, who wasn't named.

"[You] would expect tolerance from doctors, but this is the worst group when dealing with their own," said another.

The NHS workforce must reflect the population it serves
Department of Health

Others said they faced discrimination because of their sexual orientation.

"My senior partner in the practice was very homophobic," said one. "Made jokes about homosexuals in front of me, and made disparaging comments about gay patients."

'Uncomfortable reading'

The report calls for more to be done to tackle discrimination in the NHS.

Dr George Rae, chairman of the BMA's equal opportunities committee, said some of the findings made for difficult reading.

"The doctors who participated in this study have told us that not enough is being done in the NHS to combat discrimination.

"The report makes uncomfortable reading - doctors are facing barriers to their career progression every day of their lives because of their gender, ethnicity, disability or sexual orientation."

Dr Rae suggested it was up to doctors to try to change attitudes inside the NHS.

"We are all responsible for creating the current environment and it is only through our collective and individual actions that we can start to move forward.

"Attitudes must change first and by launching this report the BMA hopes to spearhead this change."

The Department of Health said there was "no place" for discrimination in the NHS.

"The government is fully committed to diversity and equality of opportunity for all health service staff," said a spokeswoman.

"There is no place for discrimination or harassment in the NHS on grounds of race or ethnicity, gender, sexual orientation, disability, religion, or age. The NHS workforce must reflect the population it serves."

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