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GMC to launch 'very serious' review into complaints against BME doctors

Exclusive The GMC is set to launch a ‘very serious piece of work’ looking into the high level of complaints against black and minority ethnic doctors compared with white doctors.

Charlie Massey, chief executive of the GMC, told delegates at the Pulse Live event that investigative practices within the regulator have been found to be ’absolutely above board’ every time they have be audited.

But he said that there were questions around why BME doctors face more complaints than white colleagues. 

The review will also look at ’the under representation of other doctors that perhaps could be complained about’.

He said: ’What is driving the overrepresentation of BME doctors that have been complained about? And indeed potentially the under representation of other doctors that perhaps could be complained about?’

Mr Massey added that this created ’a double whammy effect’.

He told delegates the GMC was looking ’to do a very serious piece of work’ that looks at ’the overrepresentation of BME doctors that have been complained about’.

The investigation would look at the ’path of BME doctors through education’ among other factors, he added. 

It comes after the GMC faced huge criticism from the medical profession after going to High Court in order to strike off Nigerian-born paediatrician Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba, after she had previously been convicted of gross negligent manslaughter.

Mr Massey also said he felt he had ’no choice’ but to take its own medical tribunal to court after it decided to suspend Dr Bawa-Garba, but keep her on the medical list. 

The GMC took legal advice which said ’the tribunal erred in law in the way in which they reached their conclusions’.

Mr Massey told GPs that although he didn’t feel he had a choice in pursuing the case, adding: ’I did so with a heavy heart. I didn’t anticipate the degree of outcry that there has been over this case. I recognise that that is going to take some time to rebuild confidence.’

This comes after GMC chair Professor Terence Stephenson said he is ‘extremely sorry’ for the distress caused to the medical profession after the regulator went to High Court to strike off the junior doctor.

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Readers' comments (30)

  • Brexit....Racism..?

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  • Macaque

    One thing I find NOT clear in the GMC guidance is how to deal with a malingering patient. GMC guidance appears to assume that the ‘customer is always right’.

    As an example is a patient with an addiction to prescription drugs. When the patient does not get the prescription he/she would typically ask ‘Why can’t you prescribe it when all the other doctors in the surgery can prescribe it?’. This discussion could easily lead to a complaint, and this is a scenario where unintended bias from the doctor and the patient come in to play. In this case a BME doctor is more likely to get a vexatious complaint from a ‘native’ patient. RCGP probably would say something like 'there are some nice tricks during the consultation where you can use to talk the patient out of it nicely'. They would further add 'Oh by the way if you are a BME doctor, you would struggle with that'!

    Anecdotal but it is striking how the ‘pale male’ GP in my surgery has no complaints last year at all compared to an average of 3 for the BME GPs and 2 for the ‘pale female’ GP.

    BME doctors may have cultural differences, language difficulties, and this has been highlighted many times by GMC and RCGP as a reason for the disproportionate complaints/rulings against BME doctors.

    *** But neither GMC nor RCGP have spoken about the possibility of a patient’s unintended bias towards a BME doctor. And the unintended bias of a GMC panel during an investigation involving a BME doctor, is another story! *** Looking into BME doctors' education sounds like 'same old, same old'

    If I say UKIP voters and Daily Express readers are more likely to complain against a BME doctor, am I wrong? Of course I am a BME doctor and I could be wrong!

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  • Hey-hey, here we go again.

    Ear-shattering, attention-grabbing headlines that leads nowhere.

    Here's the reason and double jeopardy for over-representation of BME in the hamster wheel of the GMC.
    1. Sad as it may seem, the population is quick to complain about an ethnic/foreign doctor as being non-caucasian is perceived as a 'sign'of incompetence/inferiority.
    2. The GMC, wanting to always give a scalp in an appeasement to the public find the isolated, 'unconnected' BME doctor to be an easy prey.

    I hope Charlie can now save use the cost of the proposed review elsewhere.

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  • plenty of Judas'es ...reminds me of what evil Shipman did but his eventual arrest came too late

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  • AlanAlmond

    Charlie Massey - I have no faith in Jeremy Hunt’s ex-political advisor. If there is an investigation it needs to be real, not something lead by a politician for the purposes of PR. The GMC is on the rocks and this man is at the helm. What exactly is the difference between a ‘very serious piece of work’ and ‘a piece of work’? The difference is a liberal smearing of public relations bullshit on the former, nothing more.

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  • Macaque

    In one of those infinite universes, after the 'serious review' the GMC would ban BME doctors from the register because of 'education problems'. And Charles will become the prime minister. LOL!

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  • Vinci Ho

    ’I did so with a heavy heart. I didn’t anticipate the degree of outcry that there has been over this case. I recognise that that is going to take some time to rebuild confidence.’

    Is failure to anticipate such an 'outcry' , a solid reason to resign given that we are paying his salary?
    In stock market, would you expect the CEO still to stand if he/she failed to protect the interests of the company's shareholders?

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  • They are an institutionally racist organization run by out of touch individuals. Case closed. Ethnic docs trampled on by this herd of numpties day in day out.

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  • The entire GMC Leadership should be forced to resign if they do not do the honourable thing them self and that is to resign immediately.

    The GMC needs overhaul and restructuring to make it fit to govern the doctors.

    They have lost the trust of most of us. We should not allow this useless biased organisation to govern us.

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  • Seen the reply to the GMC funding petition.The GMC has already lost the confidence of DRs hence the petition.As Piston head say the GMC and the RCGP are institutionally racist.Ultimately the UK is at least 51% institutionally racist as demonstrated by the recent Brexit vote which used racism in a particularly ugly way make you ashamed to be British.

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  • The best way to avoid complaints is to avoid patients.

    The term doctor is misleading, and anachronistic,many work in academia,tertiary referral, administration etc.Some even work for the GMC.

    This is about frontline, demand led, coalface,patient contact,and the sheer quantity of it.

    In scientific medicine,one would standardise the parameter being studied

    Do BME doctors have more complaints,per consultation,per clinical problem,per ongoing medical condition that the patient has.

    Personally i would propose that as the number of issues per consultation rises the time needed rises by the square of that number,not a direct linear relationship.Patients skip back and fore between problems, and make assumptions, that are often not valid..Disentangling the issues is extremely time consuming.

    White doctors work in white, middle class, articulate educated areas,and still we get complaints.Apologies to those who work in deprived areas.

    I fear the GMC,are unlikely to recognise all the confounding variables which conspire to drive up complaints against BME doctors.

    A separate parallel investigation by independant GP's funded by the GMC may produce entirely uncomfortable findings.Indeed they may well be, in fact, better than us.

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  • Doctors are the enemies of themselves. The only protest the GMC will listen to is withdrawal of funding (c.f. current GMC petition - only 25,000 have signed).
    https://petition.parliament.uk/petitions/211232

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  • Too little too late.
    No trust left.
    Resign all those mealy mouthed gong chasers who are obviously absolutely cra**pping themselves.
    Rip it up and start again.
    They (GMC) say they have reflected? Until Dr Bawa Garba is exonerated and back at work then this is just another lie, sadly commonplace in todays world in the place of honour and a recognition of greater responsibility.

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  • Just because you voted Brexit doesnt make you racist

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  • The GMC is independent, according to the government response to the petition on funding, yet it seems to have a political appointee as its head.

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  • NO But the Brexit campaign use the jonny foreigner card to get extra votes from disenfranchised members of our society who felt these people were taking their jobs houses and using their benefits/health system at a cost to them.In the real world the majority of migrants to this country pay taxes and work really hard and make a valuable contribution to us at all levels.A lot of the economy inculding the NHS and care system will collapse without them.

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  • What would happen to a GP who had lost the confidence of virtually all of his patients? To carry on is arrogant in the extreme.

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  • Took Early Retirement

    "And indeed potentially the under representation of other doctors that perhaps could be complained about?’"

    Trying to drum up more business for his witchfinders clearly.

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  • Can't see the point of complaints. Punters are very fortunate there are still some GPs left to complain about. I'll be one less soon.

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  • CENSORSHIP?

    The GMC took legal advice which said ’the tribunal erred in law in the way in which they reached their conclusions’.

    The GMC is outraged at the legal process of its own medical tribunal
    but feels no need to assess the Gross injustice of Bawa Garbas initial trial where the trust and prosecution was able to withold a huge category of failings on the basis of them having been addressed since the death of Jack

    Surely The GMC then needs to insist on an appeal of the initial court case
    and safeguard the public from the trust in question

    Truth is your organisation wants heads to roll and you will go to all ends to achieve this

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  • CENSORSHIP?

    very serious piece of work
    everything else is just
    tongue in cheek bs

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  • AlanAlmond

    Turn out the lights | GP Partner/Principal28 Mar 2018 6:15am
    Your just as big a bigot as the bigots you complain about. What a lot of simplistic offensive stereotyped tripe. It fascinates me how people like you who voted one way in the referendum seem to think you are an expert in why the people who voted the other way voted the way they did. And it’s all incredibly incredibly simple ..it wasn’t one thing..racism. If your such an expert on the opinions and motivations of others, how is it that you find it SOOO difficult to understand someone else’s point of view and stoop to the lowest possible explanation, seems to me the person here struggling to understand is you.

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  • They are an institutionally racist organization run by out of touch individuals. Case closed. Ethnic docs trampled on by this herd of numpties day in day out.

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  • Is he so callous to carry on when majority of the profession does not have confidence in him

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  • Did anyone challenge him on the facts and logic of his argument at the Pulse conference, or did fear stop that?

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  • Google RCGP exams and ethic background....

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  • I have come across many racist patients but who are you going to fight , the doctos , hospitals , GMC offcourse. So kept quiet.
    but things for me have changed not for alot of junior immigrant doctors , Unfortunately all the equality talk is for the white patient and doctors and uk is repressive country with rampant racist and regulations akin to slavery in the medical professions.

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  • I have not faith in you Mr Massey , please resign.

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  • Council of Despair

    GMC to launch 'very serious' review into complaints against BME doctors

    we can already predict the outcome ... just pay me the money and i will do a 140 page report describing the sky as blue and grass is green followed by ... GMC not to blame, unforseen circumstances, more research needed.

    i believe the term is whitewash.

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  • Lost doc has struck a chord. I have often wondered about the covert apartheid that exists here in the UK. They key is make sure that your colleagues are good. Alternatively move countries or industries to ones that will treat you on merit.

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