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The Midlands Racial Equality in Medicine Network

A project coordinated by the University of Warwick, the University of Leicester and the University of Keele

Project Context & Aims

Concerning defined attainment gaps for BAME graduate students, research suggests that multiple factors accumulate to create inherent disadvantages for ethnic minority students. BAME students’ learning experiences have been observed to have been affected by a lack of trust in the institution, as well as racism and lack of cultural awareness from peers, staff and patients. In 2018, Warwick Medical School created the Attainment Gap Working Group, a collaboration of staff and students, to identify areas that need to be addressed, and has highlighted a need to address limited conversation between institutions about these areas.

The Midlands Racial Equality in Medicine Network (MREM) aims to build connections between regional medical schools to provide both staff and students with a platform to share upcoming initiatives, disseminating research and creating joint ventures related to increasing attainment and graduate outcomes among ethnic minority medical students and increasing racial equality in medicine. Positive role modelling and visible commitment toward improving outcomes for ethnic minorities will inspire students and staff alike, changing both institutional attitudes and policies, and provide a space to raise the profile of individual working groups in this area and their members.

Project Impact

The Network was launched at an inaugural conference held at Warwick Medical School in February 2022. This hybrid event brought together stakeholder institutions annually to demonstrate their commitment to the Network. The network spearheaded the creation of initiatives and research projects to be adopted across our institutions, helping to establish a standard across the Midlands, including the University of Warwick (especially within the institution’s EDI department). Furthermore, the event enabled them to develop working relationships, highlighting current activities and presenting research.

Each stakeholder for the MREM Conferences (refer to 'Learning Outcomes') is requested to provide a financial contribution towards grants (e.g. the Elevate Grant). These grants support students in developing research alongside their studies and provide an opportunity for them to present at a local conference; two students, Muhammad Harris (University of Leicester) and Balamrit Sokhal (University of Keele) were awarded the Elevate Grant, and they presented at the next MREM conference in March 2023.

Learning Outcomes

The Network will be tasked with planning subsequent annual MREM Conferences, with member schools hosting the conference sequentially; a second conference was held in March 2023 at the University of Leicester. The first conference gathered substantial amounts of qualitative data demonstrating both a desire to learn more about racial inequalities in medicine and network with like-minded individuals, developing a sense of community among the in-person delegates and the wider MREM Network.

Locally, staff and student connections within WIHEA and WMS working groups have a direct line to embed outcomes and standards developed out of the Network into the University of Warwick policy and culture. This work helped staff engage with other regional leads within both other institutions and the EDI sector, and the Network was also invited to contribute to the Midlands Health Inequalities Policy Commission in its work on gathering the views of key stakeholders regarding the welfare, education and development of the future healthcare workforce.

Three more partner institutions (the Universities of Birmingham, Lincoln and Nottingham) have joined the Network since its launch, and stakeholders aim to embed the Network in each institution's EDI department. In addition to this, academic members with research interests aligning with the Network goals will be supported to publish their work and present at national and international conferences; there is ongoing work on publishing an article exploring the benefits and valued gained from the creation of the Network. Many of these activities are featured on the Midlands Innovation website, and the Network was featured in a documentary entitled 'Racism in the NHS':

Project Team

Universities in collaboration: University of Warwick, University of Leicester, University of Keele

Dr Olanrewaju Sorinola (Warwick Medical School)

Project Lead

Charlotte Simms (Warwick Medical School)

Project Lead


Kirstie Haywood (Warwick Medical School, Chair Athena Swan Network)

Kate Williams (Department of Health Sciences, Leicester Medical School)

Kiran Bhavra (Leicester Medical School)

Alan Harper (University of Keele, School of Medicine)

Student Co-Lead

Ramat Ayoola (Warwick Medical School)