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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)

  • @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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