Racial disparities in approval for specialty training posts


  • Dawn O'Shea
  • UK Professional News
Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals. Access to the full content of this site is available only to registered healthcare professionals.

Doctors from black and ethnic minority backgrounds are less likely than white doctors to be considered suitable to apply for specialty training jobs, according to an analysis published in the BMJ.

The findings are drawn from General Medical Council (GMC) data showing the number of applicants to speciality training posts who were deemed “appointable” over three years, from 2016 to 2018.

The data show that doctors from black and ethnic minority backgrounds are far less likely to be approved by regional recruitment offices or deaneries to apply for specialist training posts. Across the three-year period, 75 per cent of white applicants to training posts were appointable (23,589 out of 31,430) compared to only 53 per cent of ethnic minority applicants (15,293 out of 29,072).

The figures are presented in a special issue of the BMJ investigating racism in medicine and suggest there has been little progress in addressing bias in recruitment since a landmark paper published by the BMJ in 1993 exposed racial disparity in shortlisting for senior house officer posts.

Prof Aneez Esmail, Professor of General Practice at the University of Manchester, who carried out the 1993 research, said he was disappointed that 27 years later ethnic minority doctors are still less successful than white doctors in securing specialty training posts.

The lack of progress since 1993 is “very disappointing and frankly unacceptable in this day and age”, Prof Esmail said. He called on the GMC and Health Education England to investigate the causes.

“This data is shining a light on where there might be a problem. The reason we collect it is so that we can deal with discrepancies, differential attainment, differential applications, because it makes it a fairer and more transparent system,” he said.