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GPs go forth

GMC more likely to investigate complaints against BME doctors

Black and minority ethnic doctors are more likely to face a GMC investigation from complaints about them compared with their white counterparts.

An investigation by BBC News found that 44% of complaints made against black doctors over five years led to investigations compared with 29% of complaints made against white doctors.

Over ten years, the numbers were even more stark, with 57% of complaints progressed to investigation for black or black British doctors, 54% for Asian or Asian British doctors and 44% for white doctors.

The GMC has said it is not ‘complacent’ about its processes not being discriminatory, and if its independent review into the discrimination of BME doctors produces any findings about its current processes, it will ‘take immediate action to address them.’

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said the GMC is aware that BME doctors are more likely to be referred to them than white doctors.

He said: ‘We know that black, Asian and minority ethnic (BAME) doctors are more likely to be referred to the GMC by public bodies than white doctors, and an independent study has found that this results in more BAME doctors being investigated and receiving sanctions.

‘We are not complacent about our own processes being free from discrimination, which is why we regularly and independently get them reviewed to ensure they are in line with our published guidance and without bias. These audits have always found that our decisions are consistent with this guidance and without evidence of bias, and that the guidance itself does not introduce bias.

‘But we want to understand better why these referrals are happening and that’s why we have asked two independent experts (Roger Kline and Dr Doyin Atewologun) to carry out a major piece of independent research. We hope this will shed light on this problem and give practical recommendations on how we and others can tackle it. For our part, we’re clear that if the research makes any findings about our current processes or outcomes, we will take immediate action to address them.’

Law and policy lead for The Doctors' Association UK Dr Jenny Vaughan said: 'It is not right that in some areas, some hospital trusts refer nearly twice as many black and ethnic minority doctors to the regulator than other trusts. This disparity should really be looked at so there isn't a knee-jerk response going on in weaponising the GMC against certain vulnerable groups of doctors. The GMC itself is not racist. However, it does appear to be to me, that in some trusts BAME doctors are treated differently to white doctors, hence the higher rates of complaints to the GMC.'

This comes as the RCGP has been threatened again with court action over the difference in MRCGP exam pass rates between black and minority ethnic doctors and the lack of action following the 2013 judicial review. 

Mr Massey has also recently admitted that the legal advice the GMC received during the Dr Bawa-Garba case was wrong.

The GMC has previously been criticised by organisation BAPIO for focusing on employer’s complaints about BME doctors rather than the way the regulator treats BME doctors.

Readers' comments (6)

  • ‘We are not complacent about our own processes being free from....’ Probably nobody accuses the GMC of complacency after the Dr Bawa-Garba case.
    It’s interesting that GMC headquarters is just up the street from the hallowed ground of Peterloo, where many peaceful protesters lost their lives or were seriously injured seeking fairness and democracy in society, two hundred years ago, this coming mid-August. BME doctors seem to many to be just looking for a level playing field.

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  • There is no doubt that the GMC processes are discriminatory. Black is the wrong colour. I accept that. However the GMC cannot state that it is not.

    The issue is that the GMC likes to shift blame to others, by results of independent reviews.

    The GMC has again attempted to shift the issues of their behavior to BME doctors to the REFERRALS by the employers. This is disingenuous.

    A clear live recent issue: White spinal consultant doctor admits to dishonesty on a SECOND GMC serious issue. A slap on the back of the hand:(

    A black doctor found to be dishonest and ERASED BUT which decision was quashed at the High Court with an order never to repeat the charge:(

    This shift of blame from ITSELF (The GMC) to the increased referrals from employers is similar to the shift of blame from ITSELF (The GMC) to lawyers in the Bawa Garba Case.

    Everyone, except Mr Massey knew that Mr Ivan Hare, the QC gave wrong advice. Mr Massey now accepts that. He has seen the light!

    The GMC must research the meaning of an ADVICE.

    Independent reviews expose brainless executives. Only brainless executive follow bad advise.

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  • Not only are they more likely to be investigated, they are also more likely to be struck off from the looks of it. Strangely how Mr Massey who is on £240-250K a year for doing what, has not reflected despite getting bad advice and delivered a delayed response only after bad publicity. He needs to strike himself off and step down as the profession has lost confidence in him. I wonder why the professional standards committee has not stepped in after such a grave error.

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  • The Doctors Association spokesman seems to have missed the point.

    A higher PROPORTION of received complaints are investigated against BME doctors.

    Dr Vaughan implies that this is the result of trusts making higher NUMBERS of complaints against these doctors.

    But clearly a higher number of complaints doesn't explain a higher proportion investigated.

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  • The GMC is very biased and discriminatory against BME doctors. They would be ready to investigate and penalise BME doctors no matter how trivial the issue is.
    However when we come forward to report a concern or unfair treatment that we received from a doctor who is a local graduate, we get ignored and our case gets dismissed quickly no matter how serious the concern is.
    This has happened to me personally.
    The statistics showed that BME doctors represent 35% of NHS doctors and without them the NHs would have collapsed yet 60% 0f successful GMC sanctions are against BME.
    All BME doctors have gone assessments by GMC to ensure their professional and linguistic standards are acceptable to the level that makes them work safely in the NHS. Therefore you cannot argue that their standards are below that of local medical graduates.

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  • We as BME doctors are working under extreme pressure. We are always worried that the GMC may penalise us for trivial things. We do not feel that we have fair treatment if we are to be referred to FTP and do not have faith in the GMC. There are some influential organisations like BAPIO who have stood up against GMC especially in the cases like Bawa Garba but we need to have an organisation which support all BME doctors so that we can feel safe when working in the NHS and not be living in fear all our lives.
    Many of my colleagues have left the NHs and migrated to middle east or other countries due to the feeling of lack of confidence in the GMC and fear of discrimination if they are to be referred to FTP panel.

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