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Why we need to talk about race

Racism and racialised understandings of the world are endemic in the UK and across the world. It’s such a vast topic that encroaches on every aspect of our lives that it can be hard to know where to begin.

A very topical starting point is the impact that the COVID-19 pandemic has had on different communities in the UK. On a basic level, people from BAME backgrounds,including healthcare workers, have a significantly higher risk of dying from the disease (ONS), and it is likely that racism, discrimination and social inequality has played a significant part in this disparity (BMJ).


However, the pandemic has also brought into sharp relief our awareness of the longstanding racial inequalities that are present across every dimensions of our lives. The UK Racial Disparity Audit (Gov) is a sobering place to start for an official overview of how people of different backgrounds are treated across areas including health, education, employment and the criminal justice system.


But it doesn’t stop there. As healthcare professionals in the NHS (NHSemployers) we also need to think about the very clear racial inequalities that exist in our workplace (Kingsfund).

And then there are the issues that our children and families face. Black women are five times more likely to die during and up to one year after pregnancy than white women (MBRRACE). Black Caribbean, Indian, Bangladeshi, Pakistani and Black African babies all have significantly increased odds of being born preterm compared with White British babies (Yangmei). Compared to white infants, British Asian infants who require congenital cardiac surgery have a 53% increased risk of dying (Knowles). While our older children with sickle cell disease face discrimination in school (Dyson), our black teenagers are over-represented in psychiatric in-patient settings and are more likely to detained under the Mental Health Act during that admission (Tolmac).

We need to talk about race.

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©2020 by paediatricdialogueonrace.co.uk. A collective of Paediatricians in NW England opening the conversation on racism in our working lives.