Positive pandemic workplace experiences not shared by BAME doctors

25th Dec 2020
Positive pandemic workplace experiences not shared by BAME doctors

Harun Nasrullah

Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) doctors are less likely than their white peers to experience improvements in workplace teamwork during the Covid-19 pandemic, according to a report published on November 27.

Most doctors in the UK say that, despite the pandemic’s huge impact on healthcare, there have been positive impacts, such as teamwork and knowledge and information sharing.

But their experiences are not shared to the same degree by BAME doctors, backing calls for all doctors to receive better support in the workplace.

The findings are from a survey published as part of the General Medical Council’ (GMC) annual The state of medical education and practice in the UK report.

It found that, despite the pressures caused by Covid-19, most (89 per cent) doctors experienced at least one positive change during the pandemic. However, BAME doctors were less likely to share the positive experiences reported by many of their white counterparts:

Positive changes to teamworking between doctors were reported by 68 per cent of white doctors, falling to 55 per cent for BAME doctors.
Positive change in the sharing of knowledge and experience across the medical profession was reported by 61 per cent of white doctors compared to 46 per cent of BAME doctors.

Positive change in the speed at which workplace changes were made was reported by 57 per cent of white doctors, compared to 38 per cent of BAME doctors.
A representative sample of more than 3,600 doctors completed the survey, which asked about the experience of working during the first peak of the pandemic in the spring, as well as in 2020 more generally.

Charlie Massey, the GMC’s Chief Executive, said the survey results are of “concern”, adding, “We know BAME doctors too often lack the supportive and compassionate leadership that is required to thrive. Doctors of all grades, and from all backgrounds, need and deserve the same levels of support if they are to provide the best possible care for patients, in what will continue to be difficult months ahead.”

Coronavirus had a widespread impact on doctors’ working lives, with 81 per cent experiencing significant changes to their work and 42 per cent being redeployed.
Compared to a similar survey in 2019, a greater proportion of doctors reported being able to cope with their workload, and fewer reported being at high risk of burnout. This was due in part to elective procedures being postponed or cancelled during the first wave of the pandemic.

Massey added, “This has been a year like no other, but the challenging situation will last for some time yet, and there are issues that healthcare leaders must address. Compassionate and supportive leadership is key, for patients as well as doctors, and this is the case now more than ever. We must all build on the flexible approach that has been a necessity this year.”

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