Books

Racism in medicine An agenda for change Edited by Naaz Coker King's Fund 241 pages£15.99 Naaz Coker and the King's Fund deserve enormous praise for this inspirational book. It is the closest that we have come to a 'Macpherson report' for the health service.

It clearly produces evidence for discrimination from the 'cradle to the grave' of a doctor's life in public service.

You are left in no doubt that the NHS suffers from institutional racism - 'wherever you look they found it'.

But the message is much wider. The NHS employs more than a million people - it is the largest business in Europe - and what this book exposes is massive incompetence in the way people's careers are managed. This has a major, damaging impact on the lives of doctors and their families and means that the NHS cannot guarantee that it gets the best doctor for the job. This is bad for doctors and devastating for patient care.

Substitute racism for sex and other discrimination (female consultants are half as likely to get a merit award) and you realise that the book illustrates the problems and many of the solutions for all of these. It is vital reading for any manager.

There is also a message for government - if it fails to deal with this issue it will fail to 'deliver'. But there are powerful allies in government. One of the many little gems in this book is about paymaster general Dawn Primarolo's pioneering work, 'Acceptance into medical school and racial discrimination'. She must be one of the few MPs to have had a paper published in the British Medical Journal.

The book is rare for an academic institution. It uniquely combines the statistical evidence, the personal stories from individual doctors and an action plan for change.What a message for other academic bodies that continue to churn out research with little responsibility for ensuring that the resultant message creates real change for the better.

The human stories and quotes recreate in me a real passion for change. I hope they do the same to you and make us all part of the solution to racial discrimination.

'There is a British assumption, all too often seen in the NHS, that anyone who cannot speak English is both deaf and stupid' - Dr Shahid Dadabhoy.

'Until the NHS takes the issue of racial discrimination and bullying seriously, there will continue to be many doctors who dedicate there lives to the NHS but who are ignored, exploited, sidelined and discriminated against in their working lives' - anonymous.

'In the majority of cases, after a panel interview where there was not a single non-white person, the job would go to a white doctor who had far less experience than me' - Dr Mohib Khan.

Nigerian doctor Eunice Modupe Oluwemimo Ambimbola successfully uses the French-sounding, shortened form of her name:

Eunice Laleye.

Names alone can be a 'sufficient' selection criteria.

One more quote:

'is not it strange that for one person to feel great another has to be demeaned?'

- Mahatma Gandhi.

Dr Sam Everington London GP and anti-discrimination campaigner.