In a moving conversation with ITV (above), senior Indian surgeon Radhakrishna Shanbhag describes an instance of discrimination faced at the hands of a female patient he was due to perform surgery on. The patient had asked, “Can I have a white doctor do the operation?”. When asked what he did in response, Shanbhag shared his apprehensions about how the National Health Service (with whom he has worked for more than 20 years) would support him if he took the issue up.
United Kingdom’s NHS has previously come under fire for failing to effectively address systemic racism. Despite its being the world’s fifth largest employer, an alarming British Medical Association (BMA) report found both unconscious and overt racism within the organisation, ranging from job progression and training to discrimination by patients.
In the video, Shanbhag appears to be moved to tears, discussing the self-doubt that crept in after such racist encounters. Having given his “life, blood, sweat and tears to the NHS” he reveals that were it not for his 12-year-old child whom he must care for, he “would have left the NHS a long time back.”
Earlier in 2019, Punam Krishnan, who works as a general paediatrician in Glasgow, also spoke out about racism she has faced on the job, and what she decided to do about it. Below is a tweet from her that sparked a conversation about the experience of ethnic minorities in the NHS.