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Independents' Day

RCGP fends off employment tribunal challenge to MRCGP exam

Exclusive The RCGP has staved off a challenge to take them to an employment tribunal over the performance of international medical graduates in the MRCGP exam.

A ruling published this month found that the RCGP was not a ‘service provider’ under the terms of the Equality Act, meaning that an employment tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter.

Instead, a judge said the forthcoming judicial review into the MRCGP exam hearing in April was the appropriate forum for deciding whether the college was guilty of ‘direct or indirect discrimination’.

The ruling, made by the Manchester employment tribunal, found against 20 trainees – represented by Medic Law -  who argued that the two bodies should have to answer cases at tribunal level, which could have opened the floodgates for numerous individuals who have been thrown out of training to make financial claims against them.

The 20 trainees claimed that the RCGP and GMC were guilty of ‘direct and indirect discrimination’ by continuing to use the controversial clinicial skills assessment as part of the MRCGP exam, which resulted in them being thrown out of training due to multiple failed attempts.

But employment Judge [Carol] Porter ruled that the RCGP was not a ‘service provider’ under the terms of the Equality Act, meaning that the employment tribunal had no jurisdiction in the matter.

The ruling said: ‘On balance I find the claim that against the RCGP as a service provider within the meaning of section 55 of the Equality Act 2010 has no reasonable chance of success.’

She also found that claims against the GMC would not succeed in the employment tribunal. The ruling stated: ‘The GMC has no involvement in the actual training. In all circumstances I find that this part of the claim has no reasonable prospect of success. Further, and in the alternative, it is not in the interest of justice, it is not proportionate, it is against the overriding objective, to allow the GMC to remain as a party of these proceedings.’

However, Judge Porter also said she had ‘considerable sympathy’ for the claimants’ argument that ‘the GMC cannot have their cake and eat it, cannot avoid being a party to a discrimination claim in the Administrative Court by asserting there that it is better for discrimination to be dealt with in the employment tribunal, but now to assert that such a discrimination claim cannot be dealt with in the employment tribunal but must be dealt with by the Administrative Court by way of judicial review’.

The judge said she will deal with the deaneries’ application to strike out the claims at a later date, with a ruling expected this week.

The differences in failure rates between UK graduates and international medical graduates taking the exam has been the subject of a long-running row, which is set to culminate in the judicial review hearing in April. But 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.

Readers' comments (9)

  • Tom Caldwell

    This result I always thought was inevitable, what is far from inevitable is the result of the Judicial review. I think it is impossible to predict the outcome in April.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Let's save our comments until JR as a respect to the judicial system

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  • If RCGP is not the 'service provider', then the right to carry out the examinations by them should also be nullified.

    Yes, RCGP is not paying the trainees, however it is controlling the outcome of the training and their livelihood which is linked to trainees passing a faulty and discriminatory exam 'CSA conducted by RCGP.

    Hence, as Judge has declared it's not a 'service provider' then GMC should take away all the powers from RCGP to conduct any sort of exams.

    RCGP then should not be deciding who can/cannot give the exam. They have also made retrospective changes to the exam regulations which should also be nullified.

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  • If RCGP is not service provider then are we paying fee MRCGP to whom ?
    Are they minting money , i think deaneries should take responsobility

    ? I think deaneri

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  • Interesting. It's like saying we can't refuse to appoint a blind surgeon to a post as this will count as disability discrimination!
    If you can't pass MRCGP, you can not work as a GP in this country. Full stop. Yes RCGP is indeed not a service provider, but they administer and regulate an exam, the outcome of which directs wether a person will continue or cease to 'provide a service'.

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  • @10.30
    You are right if the MRCGP is fit for the purpose.
    If General Practise is all about touchy feely and customer care, MRCGP may fit for its purpose. I would rather consult a doctor who knows his/her medicine rather than their sales rep skills.
    In recent years, Why Medical defence insurance fee and litigation claims are the highest and rising among the GPs when compared to other doctors in the NHS? Could it be MRCGP assessment is not as robust as to produce good safe doctors?
    In my opinion if the assessment process is robust it should produce competent safe doctors. Good doctors are subjected to less claims. Bad doctors are subjected to more claims. Not rocket science, is it?

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  • I am lost for words since reading this article. If RCGP was not a service provider then why we weren't allowed to take CSA at a deanery level with real patients rather than college HR with #simulators. If the college allowed us to take the exam at its HR then it surly should take some responsibility. I still believe with all of those who sadly thrown out of training, because of such a single biased exam that justice is not far from happening!!! Let's hold on in there guys!!!!

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  • I am astounded that RCGP is defined as a non service provider! The description is "RCGP is the professional membership body and guardian of standards for family doctors in the UK, working to promote excellence in primary healthcare." If this is not enough as a service provider, what is it then? It is hilarious that RCGP is to avoid the research findings of Professor Esmail on the gap and spooky exam system, which fails a high percent of ethnic minority doctors. The data confirms this and RCGP should not be in denial. But to make CSA at a Deanery level with real patients instead of actors.

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