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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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