The GMC has been dragged into the legal row over the MRCGP exam after a High Court judge ruled it was ‘arguable’ that the regulator had failed in its duties with regards to equality legislation.
Mrs Justice Patterson said that no equality assessment of the exam had been carried out by the GMC and – despite the regulator commissioning a major independent review by racism expert Professor Esmail – there was’ uncertainty in my mind’ about whether it had done enough since finding out about the differential rates.
The judge dismissed the argument that the GMC’s decision to approve the exam was taken in December 2010 – and therefore too long ago to be subject to a judicial review – and agreed that it was arguable that the GMC had an ongoing role in approving the exam.
However, Mrs Justice Patterson said that the GMC would not have to face allegations of direct or indirect discrimination. If it was guilty of this, she argued, then the correct forum to hear such cases would be employment appeals tribunals.
It was revealed in court that there are around 50 employment appeals on the issue ready to be heard. However, it is believed that these will not be heard until after the judicial review has concluded.
A previous hearing ruled that the GMC should be not a defendant in the judicial review being brought against the RCGP by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin.
But this ruling means that the GMC will have to defend its actions over the differential pass rates between UK and international medical graduates in a judicial review likely to be heard early in the new year.
The judicial review will look charges that the clinical skills examination component of the MRCGP directly or indirectly discriminates against international medical graduates. The date for the full judicial hearing has not yet been confirmed, but it will last three days.
Paul Philip, acting chief executive of the GMC, said: ‘We accept today’s decision by Mrs Justice Patterson to give limited permission to include the General Medical Council within the scope of the Judicial Review. This permission relates solely to public sector equality duty. We will look carefully at the Judge’s Order.
‘We will not be commenting further on this ahead of the hearing
‘We accept today’s decision by Mrs Justice Patterson to give limited permission to include the General Medical Council within the scope of the Judicial Review.
‘This permission relates solely to public sector equality duty. We will look carefully at the Judge’s Order. We will not be commenting further on this ahead of the hearing.’