Asian name hits doctors' chances

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The Independent Online
Medical students seeking jobs as junior hospital doctors can increase their chances of success by almost half if they have an English name, a study has found.

Asian doctors are still being discriminated against in the jobs market - and all the way up the career ladder - despite pledges by doctors' leaders and employers to deal with racism in the National Health Service, the report's authors say.

Drs Aneez Esmail and Sam Everington sent matched pairs of applications for 50 advertised hospital jobs covering a wide range of specialties. The applications were identical in all respects except for the name. Of those with Asian names 36 per cent were shortlisted, compared with 52 per cent for those with English names.

The study, a repeat of an earlier one carried out five years ago, showed that discrimination against those with Asian names has not improved and that NHS trusts are failing to monitor the situation despite instructions to do so. Writing in the British Medical Journal, the authors put the blame on the consultants who shortlist candidates.

"These consultants have a responsibility to maintain the highest ethical and moral standards, and their employers have the added responsibility to ensure that equal opportunity policies are being implemented and monitored," they say.

Dr Everington said other research showed that Asian doctors suffered discrimination throughout their careers. They were less likely to get into medical school, to get a consultant post or a merit award. There was no ethnic minority member of the council of the British Medical Association and none in the top three grades at the Department of Health, he said.

Between 25-30 per cent of doctors are from the ethnic minorities, compared with 6 per cent in the general population. Dr Everington said this was a blip owing to the recruitment drive launched in the Indian sub-continent during the 1950s and 1960s to staff the newly founded NHS, and the proportion would start to decline.

"We have found that high- quality doctors are being turned down on the basis of their surname. That means the hospitals don't get the best person for the job. We have taken a snapshot of discrimination happening in the NHS, where it happens to be visible, but I have no doubt it is wider than that."

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