Statement by College Chair Martin Marshall on Race and Equality following the death of George Floyd, and the Black Lives Matter movement

Publication date: 05 June 2020

College Chair Professor Martin Marshall issued the following statement to RCGP members on 5 June.

As a College, we haven't said anything on social media about the #blacklivesmatter movement or the appalling death of George Floyd and the aftermath that we are seeing in the US, and across the world. We don't want to make statements without substance or without action.

Deeds not words: Emmeline Pankhurst's mantra.

All forms of racism are abhorrent and inequalities must not be tolerated. In general practice, we see inequalities on a daily basis, not just in practices like mine in East London but across the whole of the UK. The inequalities have never been more apparent than during COVID-19. And we are not simply referring to our patients and communities: 12 doctors have died during this pandemic, 11 BAME. Who said that COVID-19 was a great leveller? It isn't.

This week we've seen a report by Public Health England into why black and ethnic minority people are disproportionately affected by COVID-19. It raises more questions than answers. It did not, for example, take into account social factors such as type of work which we know has an impact on health outcomes. We await the next report from PHE - and its recommendations about what we can do to make a difference.

In the meantime, the College is committed to addressing inequalities of all kinds, however challenging the task. It was a GP after all, the late great Julian Tudor Hart, who in 1971 first drew attention to the Inverse Care Law. Sir Michael Marmot addressed our Annual Conference last year with a hard-hitting description of what he thinks needs to be done and what isn't being done to address health inequalities. At the end of the presentation he received the longest and most heart-felt ovation I have ever seen at any conference. Take a look at RCGP Scotland Chair Carey Lunan's recent interview with Michael.

GPs care about inequalities and want to focus on those with greatest need in their communities. That is why the College is now actively promoting the public health or community health model of general practice, alongside our commitment to biomedical and psycho-social care, building on what we are learning from the COVID crisis. We have a role to play and we're ready to play it.

It won't be easy. It should be, but it won't be. As a College we value all our members, regardless of their race, gender, sexuality or any other of their protected characteristics, equally. And as GPs, we do the same for our patients.


Statement from Dr Ian Wood - National First5 Chair

On behalf of the RCGP First5 Committee

To our Colleagues, Friends and Communities

We as the RCGP First5 Committee wholeheartedly support and stand in solidarity with the black community and all those affected, as the world recognises the appalling, unjust and inhumane treatment of George Floyd. His distressing death has led to global focus on the structural racism and violence which is abhorrently present in all of our worlds.

We feel it's important to recognise on both the individual and collective level our role in this and the impact of systemic racism. We will ensure that we continue to contribute to the current reflections, dialogue and emerging actions in a way that produces meaningful, lasting change in our society so that the despicable actions we have witnessed imposed upon our black community happen no more.

We will work together to reframe the narrative and speak out against the inequity that exists in every facet of our society. We call on each and every one of our colleagues to call out unacceptable behaviour and stand in solidarity and unity with our colleagues and the patients we serve.

Black Lives Matter

Further Information

RCGP Press office: 020 3188 7633/7574/7575
Out of hours: 0203 188 7659

Notes to editor

The Royal College of General Practitioners is a network of more than 53,000 family doctors working to improve care for patients. We work to encourage and maintain the highest standards of general medical practice and act as the voice of GPs on education, training, research and clinical standards.

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