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BAPIO ‘struggling’ to pay legal costs following CSA exam row

An international doctors’ group, who took the RCGP to court over its MRCGP exam, has said it is ‘struggling’ to pay the legal costs incurred as a result of the judicial review.  

The court ordered the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) to pay £50,000 of the costs incurred by the GMC and the RCGP after ruling that the MRCGP exam was lawful earlier this year.

BAPIO has pledged to continue to collect donations from doctors in an effort to raise the money, however it is hoping that both organisations will waiver the legal costs as a ‘goodwill gesture.’  

The High Court ruled the MRCGP exam was lawful, following a judicial review into the differences in failure rates between white and non-white medical graduates sitting the clinical skills assessment (CSA) – the role-playing test of GPs’ clinical and communication skills. However the judge presiding over the case declared that the time had come to act on differentials in the pass rates between white and non-white trainees taking the CSA exam.

BAPIO president Dr Ramesh Mehta told Pulse: ‘We are struggling to collect £50,000 cost to the RCGP and the GMC. Our members are demoralised with the outcome of the judicial review’s verdict. There is huge concern about fairness in establishment. BAPIO is, however, determined to continue dialogue with the RCGP and the GMC to improve the situation. A lot of BME doctors are hoping that the RCGP and the GMC will waiver the £50,000 legal costs as a goodwill gesture – but if they don’t, we will try our best to continue our collection and pay the cost.  

‘We requested both the RCGP and the GMC to waiver the cost as the judge said that BAPIO did the right thing to bring the judicial review which was in the public interest and said it is a moral victory for BAPIO. But so far they want the cost although willing to extend the time limit.’

Dr Maureen Baker, chair of the RCGP, said: ‘The MRCGP exam was ruled to be just and fair at a judicial review in April. Since then, the College has been working closely with BAPIO, BIDA and other interested parties to support international medical graduates, black and minority ethnic doctors and all struggling trainees in relation to quality of training and passing the MRCGP.

‘Although the total accumulated costs of the case to the RCGP and GMC were over £400k, we accepted Mr Justice Mitting’s ruling that BAPIO should only pay costs of £50,000, which he saw as ‘not be an insurmountable problem in raising [this] sum’ since he had been told that BAPIO had already raised £175,000 from voluntary contributions. Any decision to waive costs ultimately lies with the RCGP’s insurers, to whom any funds raised for costs will be repaid.’

The RCGP and BAPIO recently announced that they will be working in close collaboration to address the pass rate discrepancies of the MRCGP exam.