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GMC set to probe 'complaints bias'

The GMC is to launch a three-pronged investigation into whether its procedures are biased against doctors who qualified outside the UK, writes Helen Crump.

The move has been prompted by research showing the council has referred a far higher proportion of complaints against non-UK qualified doctors to case examiners. Ten per cent of all complaints against overseas-qualified doctors in 2005 were referred for adjudication, compar- ed with 5 per cent of those against UK-qualified doctors.

The GMC is now planning an external review of fitness to practise decisions, a study into challenges facing doctors entering the NHS and a sponsored research fellowship into diversity.

The University of York research found there was insufficient data on ethnicity to tell whether racism was a factor.

Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin, said 'racism and discrimination' were part of the problem. He said: 'It's a complex situation but the bottom line is it is very unfair to these doctors.'

Dr Krishna Korlipara, a GMC fitness to practise screener and GP in Bolton, said a cultural reluctance among some overseas-trained doctors to apologise for mistakes early on was one possible explanation. He said: 'I can say as an overseas-qualified GP within the GMC, neither staff nor members have at any time shown insensitivity or bias against overseas doctors.'

The GMC received 4,980 complaints against doctors last year, up 12 per cent on 2004.

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