Half of GPs report rise in racism since Brexit vote, survey finds

Almost half of GPs have noticed an increase in racist incidents following the UK's vote earlier this year to quit the EU, a survey suggests.

A total of 47% of 118 locum GPs who took part in a poll said that racist incidents had increased since the Brexit vote on 23 June.

Respondents to the poll, by the Network Locum website, reported a patient asking when a Polish GP would 'go home', and cases in which patients had asked at their GP practice when non-white doctors would 'go home'.

GPs reported racist insults after refusing to hand out antibiotics, patients demanding treatment by white British doctors, questions about their religion and in some cases inappropriate behaviour or racist language used by practice staff.

GP racism concerns

More than six out of 10 (63%), said they had personally experienced or witnessed racism on the part of colleagues or patients at some point in their careers, the survey found.

But doctors reported feeling increasingly uncomfortable about the recent rise in cases of racism, with some saying that Brexit seemed to have given people the idea they could be 'more overtly racist'.

Doctor community lead for Network Locum Dr Cherie Wong said: 'We were prompted to carry out this survey with the increase in racism since the Brexit vote. GPs play an important role in local communities and are very public facing, so we were concerned that their welfare and safety would be affected by the current political climate.

'Unfortunately, the results show a disturbing trend that needs to be addressed. More measures need to be taken to educate and safeguard both practice staff and patients regarding discriminatory behaviour and how to deal with such confrontations.

'We feel it is unacceptable that many GPs, no matter their ethnic origin, are feeling persecuted and unsafe at work.'

GPonline reported on the eve of the EU referendum that nearly three quarters of GPs wanted the UK to remain part of the EU.

Following the vote, the RCGP hit out at Brexit campaigners who it accused of 'playing up' the case for leaving the EU, in particular with an exaggerated claim that leaving could free up £350m a week for the NHS.

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