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GMC to collect ethnicity data

The GMC will collect ethnicity and other equalities data on all registered doctors by the end of the year so it can monitor whether certain groups of doctors are subject to more complaints.

The move comes just weeks after Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt insinuated that some Muslim GPs breached the confidentiality of Muslim women

patients.

The GMC was unable to support or deny the claims because no data was available on the

cultural backgrounds of doctors referred to fitness-to-practise hearings.

Ethnicity data is held on only a third of all registered doctors but on about 90 per cent of those registered after 2004 when ethnicity monitoring was added to registration application forms.

Sir Graeme Catto, chair of the GMC, told last week's council meeting that the initial plan had been to collect personal and scope of practice data at the point of revalidation.

'But this is going to take time and we can no longer wait,' he said. 'We need to get a move on.'

Finlay Scott, GMC chief executive, confirmed the data would enable information on those doctors who are the subject of complaints to be compared against those registered to practise.

A data collection pilot scheme among 516 doctors in October last year obtained a 73 per cent response rate. Collection of equality data will now be rolled out to all registered doctors by the end the year, the council agreed.

The GMC's diversity committee will look at whether to

extend the information to be collected to include other measures of equality monitoring, such as disability.

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