Last reviewed 1 June 2021

The Care Quality Commission (CQC) has issued an open statement, together with the NHS Race and Health Observatory, Nursing and Midwifery Council (NMC) and General Medical Council (GMC), calling on healthcare leaders to ensure that health and care staff across the country are protected from racism or any other form of discrimination.

The statement demonstrates a collective commitment to work together to tackle racism, bias and inequalities within the healthcare system, calling on healthcare leaders to ensure that policies and processes are fair, inclusive and in line with the Equality Act 2010.

NHS Race and Health Observatory Director Dr Habib Naqvi said racism in our society should be viewed as “absolutely intolerable” and needs to be tackled head-on. He said: “The NHS Race and Health Observatory will work with the healthcare regulators, and all other parts of the wider healthcare system, to identify and tackle structural inequalities that lead to differential experience and outcome for our healthcare workforce, diverse communities and patients.”

CQC Chief Executive Ian Trenholm said: “We stand against all forms of racism and are committed to equality of access, experiences and outcomes for people accessing health and social care services and for our staff.”

As part of the CQC’s “Well Led” domain, he said organisations are assessed on race equality across their workforce and poor practice will impact on the ratings awarded. He said everyone in health and social care has a role to play in ensuring that “all colleagues can thrive in their workplaces” and in tackling the inequalities in health and care that still exist for some people.

The CQC’s new Strategy clarifies the regulator’s commitment to looking at how the care provided in a local system is improving outcomes for people and reducing inequalities in their care. This means looking at how services are working together within an integrated system, as well as how systems are performing as a whole.

GMC Chief Executive and Registrar Charlie Massey said racism and other forms of discrimination still exist in medicine. The GMC professional standards are clear and if doctors are aware of colleagues behaving in a way that does not meet the standards they should raise concerns or challenge them.

The GMC set “ambitious” targets to address specific areas within medical the profession to address entrenched bias and racial discrimination, which it believes requires “sustained focus and for healthcare regulators be aligned on this commitment”.  

NMC Chief Executive and Registrar Andrea Sutcliffe CBE said the NMC stands firmly together with its partners in being committed to tackling institutional discrimination in all its forms. She said the values of equality, diversity and human rights are enshrined in the NMC’s Code and professional standards and will always listen and ensure appropriate action is taken when concerns about someone’s fitness to practise are raised.

The NMC is continuing with the second phase of research into the differences experienced in its referral rates of black and minority ethnic nurses, midwives and nursing associates in order to root out and address any unfairness in its own processes.

The joint statement is available at: www.nhsrho.org/news/open-statement-to-healthcare-providers-from-the-nhs-race-and-health-observatory-nursing-and-midwifery-council-general-medical-council-and-the-care-quality-commission/.