In her latest column for the Advertiser, health writer and medical graduate Lucy Dunn looks at the topic of racism in the medical profession...

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The recent surge in interest and activity of the Black Lives Matter movement has brought up a lot of uncomfortable topics, not least within medicine.

Prominent inequalities in dermatology teaching and psychiatry are two examples from a much larger selection.

These, alongside issues in the handling of complaints of racism, show that the name of the country’s most ethical profession has been far from cleared.

They are an illustration of the extent of the systemic racism that remains unfortunately ever-present today.

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The British Medical Journal (BMJ) led an investigation into the handling of racial harassment in medical schools almost six months ago.

It was found that, over three and half years, at least 60,000 students had complained about receiving racial abuse, yet only 560 of these complaints had been recorded.

Students believe medical schools do not take these incidents seriously, resulting in a distrust of senior staff and less chance of problem resolution.

When medical students were sent onto clinical placements, the BMJ found that, when appealing for help after receiving racial harassment, there was no clear authority to turn to.

Universities take a step back, and yet placement providers rarely have clear protocol in place, by which students can take action.

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The British Medical Association has since created a charter aimed at directing medical schools to more effectively handle incidences of racism.

It wants medical schools to set clearer expectations of how complaints should be managed on placement, and it requires the important players in UK medical education - the General Medical Council and the NHS - to ensure that medical schools significantly improve their staff training and recording of complaints with respect to racism.

This charter was not common knowledge amongst medical students until the Black Lives Matter movement brought the issue of ongoing racism to the forefront.

The protests of June may have passed, but awareness is still needed. In medicine especially, one of the most caring professions today, there can be no room for inequality.

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