UCL Medical School


UCL Medical School's response to #BlackLivesMatter

15 June 2020

A message from MBBS Senior Leadership team in conjunction with the EDI Advisory Group

Cruciform building

Dear Medical Students, 

We are aware of recent events occurring in the US and the impact they are having across the world, including the UK. 

The UK has its own history of racism and discrimination, and injustices still continue to occur on a wide scale. We understand that this will have been a particularly tough time for our Black students so we have collated some wellbeing resources at the end of this statement. 

We also understand that educational institutions and the Medical School are not exempt from this history of racism and discrimination, and we are aware of the role we must all play in combating this. We stand in solidarity with our Black students and support them during this extremely challenging time. 

Looking more widely, we know we cannot ignore the poor health outcomes faced by Black, Asian and other ethnic minorities throughout the NHS; most recently highlighted in the PHE review of disparities in COVID-19 risks and outcomes.

Understandably many of our students are keen to hear what the Medical School plans to do in response to recent events, and to tackle the racial injustices that still penetrate our education and health institutions.

We have been reflecting deeply on this issue and our responsibility to our students. We are committed to making tangible and sustainable changes and need to carefully consider the best way forward.

Despite UCL’s ongoing efforts to increase diversity, and tackle discrimination, we recognise that there is still significant work to be done in the Medical School. We have taken this period as a stark reminder of the importance and urgency of this.

We have received numerous emails and feedback via Unitu from students who feel there are a number of specific issues that need to be addressed.

In addition to these we have identified areas that we feel need to be tackled, including decolonising the curriculum, and review of how we respond to racial/discriminatory complaints.

In order to address these, we are keen for staff to continue to receive input from students and have formed a Staff/Student Race Equality Advisory Group that will work together with Lois Haruna-Cooper and Jayne Kavanagh (co-conveners of the UCLMS EDI committee) to devise an action plan, and start to implement recommended changes. 

We have been working over the years to support various projects and initiatives for BAME students, particularly Black students who are the most underrepresented ethnic group in medical schools around the country, including ours.

For the past two years we have been organising Target Medicine: BECOME, to encourage students of African-Caribbean descent or from Mixed Black backgrounds to explore university and studying medicine. This was developed by Black medical students who wanted to address the underrepresentation of Black students at UCL and later organised in partnership with UCL African Caribbean Medical Network.

We have also supported the UCL African Caribbean Medical Network with our expertise and resources and will continue to do so, as we understand and value the importance of their work.  

Our EDI Race Subcommittee, formed last year, is attended by student representatives, who regularly contribute to discussions and ongoing plans.

CPP tutors and faculty staff have also attended racial discrimination and differential awarding gap training, to increase awareness of some of the issues that exist.

However, we are aware that there is more work to be done and are committed to making improvements and enacting change.

Looking forward, plans are in place to implement suggestions in the UCL BAME Awarding Gap Toolkit and the BMA Charter for Medical Schools to Prevent and Address Racial Harassment, to create an inclusive curriculum, teaching, learning and assessment and create safe spaces for our BAME students. 

The first meeting of the Student/Staff Race Equality Advisory Group will be within the next week and we welcome your contribution to the group. Please email medsch.studentedi@ucl.ac.uk with your suggestions/thoughts. 

Faye Gishen and Tina Nyazika are planning to run a Schwartz Round on ‘Diversity issues in healthcare’ with BAME facilitators and panellists before the end of June. Details will be shared as soon as they are available.

UCL Medical School commits to showing solidarity in the fight against racism, to educating ourselves about racism and oppression, and to looking after each other. We encourage all of our students and staff to support each other in these difficult times. 

Please find some useful resources below:

We want to ensure that our medical school provides a safe and fair environment for all of our students and will continue to work hard to achieve this. 

Best wishes,

MBBS Senior Leadership team in conjunction with the EDI Advisory Group