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Message to students in the School of Medicine from the Head of School - 24/11/20

Dear Students,

I would like to draw your attention to the BMA’s charter for medical schools to prevent and address racial harassment; announcing our adoption and commitment to its aims. Cardiff University’s School of Medicine contributed to the extensive consultation process that helped to shape the document and we are pleased to be featured within the charter describing our work in terms of the EDI training and education we offer. This recognises the significant work that has taken place over the past 4 years since medical students produced a play entitled ‘Anaphylaxis' which contained unacceptable racist and homophobic themes. The School has not forgotten the deep offence, pain and upset the student-led play, and its prolonged aftermath, caused to our students, staff and wider communities.

The subsequent independent Bhugra Report (chaired by Prof Dinesh Bhugra, published Jan 2017) provided an additional stimulus for the School of Medicine to endorse a range of positive actions including:

  1. Review of EDI content within the C21 medical curriculum and in postgraduate modules.
  2. EDI Staff training and mentoring, including five race equality training sessions within the School.
  3. Restorative approach to complaint handling in MEDIC with training for staff and launch of the Disclosure Response System.
  4. Support for two student societies to promote racial equality:
  5. Student-Staff Race Equality Task Force group.
  6. Medical EDI Reform group.

The School of Medicine has learnt many lessons since 2016 and the adoption of the Charter is a further step in our EDI journey to tackle racism and with a commitment to inclusive cultural change. The BMA Racial Harassment Charter to prevent and address racial harassment in Medical Schools, provides valuable guidance and better support for students and staff.

We fully endorse the BMA Charter and I would urge all new and returning students to read the charter as an important element of your professional and personal development.

The Charter groups actions into four areas:

  • Supporting individuals to speak out;
  • Ensuring robust processes for reporting and handling complaints;
  • Mainstreaming equality, diversity and inclusive across the learning environment;
  • Addressing racial harassment on work placement.

I have already convened a meeting with the BMA, Health Education and Improvement Wales, and Swansea University to adopt an all Wales approach to this Charter. I have agreed to promote this at our forthcoming Annual Teaching Review meetings with the University Health Boards in Wales.

Within the Charter, is guidance for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic medical students on what they can do if they experience racial harassment. The guidance also includes advice for all medical students or staff on what to do if they witness racial harassment and how to be an active bystander. The BMA Charter introduces the ABC approach:

  • Assess for safety: if you see someone in trouble, ask yourself if you can help safely in any way
  • Be in a group: it is safer to call out behaviour or intervene in a group, and where this is not possible, report the behaviour to others who can act.
  • Care for the person who may need help and ask if they are okay.

As Head of School my personal commitment is to focus on ensuring a robust process for reporting and handling complaints and most importantly to keep students and staff informed about our actions in response to racial harassment.  In this way I would like all students and staff to have confidence in reporting harassment in the knowledge that action will be taken and unacceptable behaviour of any kind, in all settings will be addressed by the School with an emphasis on a complainant focussed, restorative approach.

You will see further promotion of this Charter throughout the academic year and beyond. For now, please help us by engaging with this agenda. Our School promotes the ethos that creating an inclusive environment is everyone’s responsibility and addressing racial inequality should not be shouldered by Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic individuals alone. It is everyone’s responsibility to educate themselves on racism and be aware of their own unconscious biases. Central to this is the ethos that our staff and student community feel valued and included in an environment built on dignity and respect.

The School of Medicine is proud to adopt this Charter as a clear and visible commitment to anti-racism and enable every student to flourish and become the very best doctor they aspire to be.

The link to the BMA Racial Harassment Charter can be found below.

BMA Racial Harassment Charter

Best wishes


Yr Athro Stephen Riley                                      Professor Stephen Riley

Pennaeth yr Ysgol Feddygaeth                         Head of the School of Medicine