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Judicial review into claims of racial bias in MRCGP will begin in April

The judicial review into alleged racial bias in the MRCGP exam brought by an international doctors’ group will begin at the High Court on 8 April, Pulse has learnt.

Dr Ramesh Mehta, chair of the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) which is taking the legal action, confirmed the review is scheduled for 8 April and will last for three days.

BAPIO is being represented by Karon Monaghan QC, a barrister specialising in equality and human rights law who previously advised the Government’s women and equality unit on the Discrimination Law Review which preceded the Equality Act 2010.

The judicial review will look at claims from BAPIO that the RCGP is ‘directly racially discriminating’ against some groups of candidates through the MRCGP exam, and whether the assessment should be declared unlawful.

The RCGP says the claims ‘have no merit’, and that there is no evidence that examiners mark people from ethnic minorities differently simply because of their ethnicity.

Dr Mehta said: ‘We have a QC – Karon Monaghan, who is one of the top barristers – who will represent our case. There will be no witnesses but we will provide a written statement.’

The legal case began back in February last year, after BAPIO failed to come to any agreement with the RCGP and the GMC about addressing high failure rates among international medical graduates in the clinical skills assessment (CSA) part of the exam.

Dr Krishna Kasareneni, chair of the GPC’s GP trainees subcommittee, confirmed to Pulse the BMA is in the process of gathering evidence in support of BAPIO’s case, as well as helping to fund the legal action.

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Readers' comments (16)

  • Vinci Ho

    Still believe in a legal system by common law.
    Save comments until the time of JR.......

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  • About time

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  • I am an IMG who passed AKT at first sitting, CSA at 2nd sitting, I have completed all my WBA I.e. CBD, COTs, OOH, MSF and addressed all concerns raised at the last panel before the 6mths extension
    I was shocked when my trainer refused to do my ESR for me to meet with the panel deadline! No reason other than 'he is not in a rush' was his reason for not doing it
    I must mention that my trainer is also a panel member. He rushed other registrars who are not due to finish until 08/2014 through and did their ESR but refused to do mine
    I pleaded with him that I will not be able to process CCT on time and this will delay my ability to look for work for about 4 weeks or more but he said that does not concern him

    Now all my colleagues that we had extension together and pass their CSA have all been cleared for CCT except me

    I wrote a letter to the deanery raising my concerns about him 3weeks ago and It was not even acknowledged until I wrote another email requesting for one
    I am confused and I need advise. He has not spoken to me in the last 3weeks, I have about 20 log entries and he has not even botherered to read through any of them and these were entries made before 12/12/13

    I need advise on the way forward

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  • @0.07
    You are not alone. I was lucky as I had an exceptionally good trainer who believes this exam is biased and did not change a single word in ESR despite failure and was always proactive in finding ways to help me in the difficult time.
    Good thing in your case is bad time is over just keep smiling till you get cct and persevere. Thanks, sorry and I appreciate are magic words. Think of your csa consultation your agenda- SICK ES agenda and try negotiate.

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  • Una Coales

    @0:07 am I am sorry to hear you are having delays in getting an ESR. The next step after speaking with your trainer would be to speak to your programme director or associate director, then associate dean or dean. If you are a member of BMA, then speaking to an industrial officer who may intervene may be an option too as well as contacting the BMA GP trainee subcommittee.

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  • Una Coales

    @0:07 A member of the BMA GP trainee subcommittee advises 't appears that the relationship is broken for some reason. Log all conversation as professional conversation and try n make contact with APDs for your patch. It needs to be a balanced effort.' I would also add find out who the BMA GP trainee rep is for your patch to contact for help with APD contacts.

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  • @ Una Coales .
    the problem is that there is no standardization of supervision. They can do what ever they wish and the trainee is left to fight for their career and life.

    So frustrating to hear all these stories. most of them are IMGs.

    thanks for you support for IMGs.

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  • Thanks for all ur advise, the strange thing is that at the early stage when I noticed some some issues I felt cld work against me, I mentioned this to my trainer only to be told 'that he was not expecting me anyway' I mentioned this casually to the program.director not as a report but she replied that 'the response was ok since my trainer has been on holiday' I was sure the deanery would not have posted me there without carrying him along
    My colleagues now warned me that they all work together as GP tutors
    When it was becoming unbearable, I made effort to speak with the deanery but before I could get any response, I noticed that without any previous conversation I could accidentally meet him on the corridor and he will ask 'what report do u have today? Or 'who do u want to report today' in a sarcastic manner, I suspected he was privy to my attempt to speak with the deanery even before any form of response from the deanery
    I had to make a tactical withdrawal after discovering he is equally a panel member
    I will contact the BMA GP trainee rep and get advise as instructed
    Once again, thanks so much

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  • @10:24pm
    And this is how it works for an IMG/ethnic in UK. A daily, endless struggle till the day he/she retires. Cold mentality in a cold country.

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  • Its like a lottery , either you will get a responsible trainer or someone who has deep unresolved psychological issues of his own.
    BMA is as useless it took a whole year to realise that IMG's have a case

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  • @7:53 completely right

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  • I hope we do get any justice. I can't believe it is just under a year when I got released from training Does anyone think that we might permit an alternative route into CCT if we won the case against RCGP or is this the end to our GP dream?

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  • I have to say that reading about the plight of annonymous dillemma that his ES (educational supervisor) is a big pain and a big time racist remined me of my own days of CSA prep.
    My ES was not at all concerned about my passing or failing the exam infact he didnt even know when I was giving the exam and assumed I would fail....and yes I am an IMG but by some stroke of luck I passed and was able to shut their mouths literally!!
    So dont give up annonymous, u will get thru this quickly and start ur career, Good Luck

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  • Anonymous | 19 March 2014 2:40pm

    With reference to comment @ 8.32, all medical trainees have gone through various exams in their career and no one expects to pass a exam by default as mentioned !! we all know that. but what is grossly apparent is very high fail rate for IMGs. No other Royal college would let their trainees leave the speciality after going through the whole couple of years training. They are stopped very early in their training at the SHO level if they do not show the competencies, exams etc. And also if trainees from other specialities who cannot pass their royal college exams can still practice as Staff grade, in other grades and contribute to NHS. Its only RCGP which has structured its training in such a way that if one cannot pass the exams right at the end of training, they you have to leave the speciality with no chance of practicing as a GP again. This is the reason why such a high pass rate for IMG's is so distressing. We all know as we have experienced in various other specialities that they are clinically competent and only because of slight accent and not a perfect grammar, I feel they have such a high fail rate. But does this really matter to the pts ?, I feel not.

    RCGP should have known this much earlier that IMGs are usually clinically competent and they need early and more extensive
    exposure to GP land.

    Anonymous | 20 March 2014 1:13am
    'They are stopped very early in their training at the SHO level if they do not show the competencies, exams etc.'

    ST1-3 is early in training, you are usually just out of Foundation training. It is not like reaching ST7 in surgery after CT posts, then being turned away.

    Yes the IMG pass rate is not as high as other groups. However most IMG trainees who work hard will pass - stop blaming others for failing. If you are good enough you will pass, as most VTS trainees eventually do. Our local pass rate is in the high 90% range.

    If you don't pass, use the experienced gained to make you a better doctor in another field where you willing hopefully prosper with your enhanced skills.

    Anonymous | 20 March 2014 9:39am
    GP training is 3 years, so essentially ST1 - ST3 GP training is equivalent to ST1 - ST7 training in other specialities. So ST1 - 3 is not early in training, its the whole GP training after which trainees are turned away if they do not get their exams at the end of training. In my experience other Royal college for example RCoA has MRCA, FRCA early in training around ST3-4.And even if trainees cannot pass this exams, they lose their National training number but still they can practice as anesthetist, be it staff grade, clinical fellow, associalist specialist etc. So essentially all the public money spent in training is not lost. While with GP training, once you leave GP training by not passing exams etc, then essentially you cannot practice as a GP anymore. So all the efforts put in, all the public money spent is wasted. And if you look at figures ' IMG pass rate is not as high as other groups ' - it is actually IMG fail rate is very high as compared to other groups. And please all IMG trainees work hard like any other trainee. No one is blaming others, these are just the facts. I am sure IMGs trainees will prosper elsewhere but at the loss of a GP career.

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  • an actor as a pt will respond favourably / unfavourably depending on his / her beliefs towards IMGs, no matter the best drama school they have been to, while a real pt has come to seek help with his/her genuine illness and responds appropriately without any bias during a consultation. And CSA being such a high stakes exam as pointed out above, why didn't the college get 2 examiners to rule out any bias, video tape the CSA, or use real pts.

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  • Recently I have heard regarding a IMG doctor working in paediatrics as a staff grade for couple of years after passing his exams applied for CCT, went through the whole training and has now been appointed as a consultant in paediatrics and is now helping to improve local nephrology services.

    Could we imagine anything similar and accomodating with RCGP. Its a shame that good quality trainees only because they cannot be 100 % on the CSA day have left with no hope of practising as a GP again after training for 3 years ! their would be valuable contribution to General Practise is lost forever !

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