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T he contribution of Asian doctors to the NHS since they arrived in large numbers in the 1960s and 70s has been immense. Their practices are often found in the poorest areas with the highest morbidity and a morass of social problems ­ areas where many GPs would fear to tread. Without their dedication the NHS would arguably have fallen apart by now.

So the revelation that a disproportionate number of Asian doctors, in general practice and hospitals, are being reported for poor performance will rightly cause alarm.

At first glance the statistics from the National Clinical Assessment Authority appear to be clear evidence of racism, whether institutional or overt, within the NHS.

But it would be premature to jump to this conclusion from the bare statistics alone.

A thorough investigation is needed into these figures and the procedures that underly them. On past experience, racial prejudice may well play a part ­ and must be rooted out. But this complex issue is ill served by rash, oversimplistic conclusions ­ however tempting.

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