White doctors are six times more likely than black applicants to be successful when applying for job positions in London according to a study published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ).

Data obtained under the Freedom of Information Act showed white doctors were also four times more likely to get a job than Asian candidates or those from a mixed ethnic background.

The figures emerged after a senior state-run National Health Service (NHS) human resources professional asked all 18 NHS acute hospital trusts in London for a breakdown by ethnicity for 2020-21 of applicants’ medical jobs, shortlisted candidates and those offered posts.

The BMJ report is based on responses from 12 of the 18 trusts in the state-run NHS that shared full unredacted data with the BMJ.

The report found wide disparities, with Barts Health NHS Trust 15 times more likely to appoint white applicants than black applicants.

“The NHS is not making a significant shift in D&I [diversity and inclusion],” said Sheila Cunliffe, the HR director who made the data request.

A spokesperson for the NHS in London responded to the report: “The NHS in London is built on the skill and dedication of its diverse workforce and is committed to ensuring fair and equal opportunities for all.

“After listening to the experiences of NHS staff, work is underway to improve recruitment and selection processes as well as the accessibility and visibility of new roles,” said the spokesperson.

The data she uncovered show that the trust offered positions to 90 applicants, including 50 of the 317 white applicants for medical positions during that period.

A total of 418 black candidates applied for medical positions and 65 were shortlisted. Yet the report shows that no black doctor was offered a position at the trust during that period.

“I know that the human resources team at Kingston are highly committed to recruiting a diverse workforce,” says Cunliffe.

“So one has to question what is going on within the business which has led to no black candidates being offered a position.”

Government statistics about ethnic diversity in public sector jobs, published in 2019, indicated that the NHS had the most ethnically diverse workforce in the country.

Some 44.4 percent of medical staff in the NHS were from an ethnic minority, and 18.4 percent for non-medical staff.

But within the workforce, it found that while nearly one in three NHS doctors were Asian, those from a black, mixed or other background was far lower.

The findings come as the NHS is seeking to address inequalities in ethnic minority recruitment, as well as discrimination.

An NHS Workforce Race Equality Standard report, published in 2020, found that white applicants were 1.61 times more likely to be appointed from shortlisting than those from a black or minority ethnic background.


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