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BAPIO 'struggling' to pay legal costs following CSA exam row

An international doctors’ group, who took the RCGP to court over its MRCGP exam, has said it is ‘struggling’ to pay the legal costs incurred as a result of the judicial review.  

The court ordered the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) to pay £50,000 of the costs incurred by the GMC and the RCGP after ruling that the MRCGP exam was lawful earlier this year.

BAPIO has pledged to continue to collect donations from doctors in an effort to raise the money, however it is hoping that both organisations will waiver the legal costs as a ‘goodwill gesture.’  

The High Court ruled the MRCGP exam was lawful, following a judicial review into the differences in failure rates between white and non-white medical graduates sitting the clinical skills assessment (CSA) – the role-playing test of GPs’ clinical and communication skills. However the judge presiding over the case declared that the time had come to act on differentials in the pass rates between white and non-white trainees taking the CSA exam.

BAPIO president Dr Ramesh Mehta told Pulse: ‘We are struggling to collect £50,000 cost to the RCGP and the GMC. Our members are demoralised with the outcome of the judicial review’s verdict. There is huge concern about fairness in establishment. BAPIO is, however, determined to continue dialogue with the RCGP and the GMC to improve the situation. A lot of BME doctors are hoping that the RCGP and the GMC will waiver the £50,000 legal costs as a goodwill gesture – but if they don’t, we will try our best to continue our collection and pay the cost.  

‘We requested both the RCGP and the GMC to waiver the cost as the judge said that BAPIO did the right thing to bring the judicial review which was in the public interest and said it is a moral victory for BAPIO. But so far they want the cost although willing to extend the time limit.’

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘The MRCGP exam was ruled to be just and fair at a judicial review in April. Since then, the College has been working closely with BAPIO, BIDA and other interested parties to support international medical graduates, black and minority ethnic doctors and all struggling trainees in relation to quality of training and passing the MRCGP.

‘Although the total accumulated costs of the case to the RCGP and GMC were over £400k, we accepted Mr Justice Mitting’s ruling that BAPIO should only pay costs of £50,000, which he saw as ‘not be an insurmountable problem in raising [this] sum’ since he had been told that BAPIO had already raised £175,000 from voluntary contributions. Any decision to waive costs ultimately lies with the RCGP’s insurers, to whom any funds raised for costs will be repaid.’

The RCGP and BAPIO recently announced that they will be working in close collaboration to address the pass rate discrepancies of the MRCGP exam.


Readers' comments (14)

  • Tough. This is £50K to cover incurred legal costs not a discretionary payment. Would BAPIO 'waive' the £50K if the boot was on the other foot?

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  • I sympathise with BAPIO.

    But either they pay this or I do (at least a share of it) through my RCGP subscription and GMC fee.

    And it wasn't me who started a legal wrangle.

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  • Surely if you are going down the legal route, there should be some thought as to the risk and plan if the case was lost. The BAPIO should have had a contingency plan for paying all the costs (400-500k) - so should easily be able to find the 50k.

    If they are unable to get the money directly from the organisation I think the college/ GMC should pursue the individual members of BAPIO.

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  • This farce has gone on long enough. BAPIO should reap what they sowed. Instead of a proper contructive dialogue with the GMC and RCGP about high failure rates, they've been unnecessarily militant and pursued them through the high court.

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  • This comment has been moderated.

  • To those 'anonymous' posters above. BAPIO were acting on an important point of principle. It wouldn't have gone to the High Court if this had not been the case. It's a shame that there had not been more engagement before this happened. (Again it wouldn't have gone to a judicial review if the others had engaged more as a judge wouldn't have allowed it if it had appeared that BAPIO were rushing to court.)

    Its worth having a read of the case. It's very interesting and still leaves many unanswered questions. At least BAPIO had some back bone.

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  • As said above BAPIO has shown some backbone and moral courage in standing up for what is obviously wrong. Unfortunately it does not have the coffers or war chest to battle it out thats all . Common sense and integrity will show where the moral victory lies. Just taking the case to court is a big victory and step for overseas doctors. Well done BAPIO.

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  • Una Coales

    Perhaps the British Medical Association can contribute again, as the treasurer announced a £1.7 million profit at the BMA ARM this year so no BMA or RCGP member has to be out of pocket. They have an international doctors subcommittee and a GP trainee subcommittee, the latter had been collating testimonials.

    In my opinion, this should have been a battle the BMA doctors trade union should have fought and engaged with the Equality and Human Rights Commission on behalf of its BME and IMG GP trainee members who alleged licensing exam discrimination, instead of hand over a paltry donation of only £25k to a small Indian doctors group to take this major case to High Court in their stead. BAPIO with the support of the BMA spent up to 2 years in 'negotiations' with the RCGP to little avail.

    Having sat through the 3-day High Court case and taken notes, it was a big shock to hear the Judge announce at the end, that this was 'not my area of expertise' and that he would 'allow an appeal as a different Judge may rule differently.'

    Why are the RCGP refusing to install CCTV cameras in all 39 CSA licensing exam rooms for fair appeals? CSA is a potential GP career breaker. Surely, candidates have a right to ask for evidence to contest, especially if they faced an extreme hawk examiner who gave them 0/9, then failed overall by 1 mark and face an outcome 4, release from GP training.

    Motorists have to drive by numerous CCTV speed cameras and may request a DVD as evidence when charged with speeding.

    Why are BME and IMG GP trainees not treated with the same rights, especially if they feel there was impropriety among the actors or examiners behind closed doors that affected their scores. Only video evidence may prove who was in the right and who was in the wrong.

    In 2010 black and ethnic minorities made up 38% of GP trainees...without BME and IMG GP trainees, general practice recruitment will be hit hard.

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  • Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘The MRCGP exam was ruled to be just and fair at a judicial review in April.
    ''However the judge presiding over the case declared that the time had come to act on differentials in the pass rates between white and non-white trainees taking the CSA exam.''
    Don't try to confuse the issues Dr Baker. The judge has made it clear that there is much to be desired in the way the exam is run.I suggest instead of contorting yourself into making excuses you get down to doing what the court has said.
    Dr Ramesh, 50000 pounds can be easily collected. Please send a email to all indian doctors on your list the way it was done at the time of HSMP review . we need to stand together. the BMA will not help us. Leave it.

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  • Una Coales | Sessional/Locum GP | 08 August 2014 8:53am

    & the others who have posted above.

    I agree that individualised contestation of the exam is a fair request and should be put in if possible.

    However, the idea that BAPIO should be paid back for initiating legal proceedings is absurd, and I would instantly stop my subscription to the BMA on any situation like this.

    I think BAPIO didnt show any "back bone" to start legal proceedings. I think it was immensely cowardly. If they wanted to act with integrity and courage, it would have been to constructively approach the matter so that RCGP and GMC provide additional measures and stategies to improve pass rates for foreign graduates.

    I disagree with the actions of BAPIO in the strongest possible terms. And the suggestions from 1:19pm or Atul Kothare that there is some global conspiracy highlight the key point here - the political ramifications of this will enable substandard trainees to use "racism" as an excuse for being substandard. This is simply unacceptable.

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  • If BAPIO did not make adequate preparations for their legal challenge then they must pay the cost. In the same way that candidates for a fair exam will fail if they do not make adequate preparations.
    I cannot refuse to pay my GMC fees if they give way to inappropriate pressure but I can leave the RCGP

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