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GMC ‘on track’ to eliminate inequality in FTP referrals by 2026

GMC ‘on track’ to eliminate inequality in FTP referrals by 2026

The GMC has said it is ‘likely’ on track to achieve its target of eliminating all disproportionate referrals from employers about ethnic minority doctors and IMGs by 2026. 

In its annual report showing progress on tackling inequality, published today, the regulator showed that the differential rate of referrals for ethnic minority doctors and IMGs compared with white doctors had decreased over recent years. 

The gap in referral rates in the five years up to 2022 was 0.19 percentage points, where 0.41% of ethnic minority doctors had a referral compared with 0.22% of white doctors. 

This marks a decrease from the 0.24 percentage point difference in the 2017 to 2021 period, and the 0.28 point difference for 2016 to 2020.

In 2021, in addition to the target on disproportionate FTP referrals, the GMC also committed to eradicating disadvantage and discrimination in medical education and training by 2031.

Four out of the five indicators it uses to measure equality in education and training have shown a ‘year-on-year narrowing of the gap in attainment between white and ethnic minority doctors’, according to the GMC’ report.

These four indicators include education performance, inclusive environments, postgraduate exams and the postgraduate ARCP.

The exception to this narrowing was the indicator for doctors’ self-reported preparedness for their first foundation year post. 

While inequalities in specialty training attainment persist, this latest report shows that the difference in average exam pass rate between white and ethnic minority doctors has decreased from 12.3 percentage points in 2019 to 9.8 in 2021. 

And the difference in pass rate between UK-trained doctors and IMGs has gone down over the same period from 29.3 to 25.2 percentage points.

In March, speaking at Pulse LIVE, GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said we should be ‘ashamed’ of the lower pass rates among trainees from ethnic minority backgrounds for exams like the MRCGP

The GMC also tracked its progress on equality as an employer and said that it is on track to have 20% of its staff from ethnic minority background by 2026, but is not currently meeting the target for proportion of these employees in management roles. 

In response to the report, the BMA’s representative body chair and equality lead Dr Latifa Patel said the evidence of progress is ‘encouraging’ but the union’s members ‘hold deep concerns about discrimination and racial bias within the GMC’s own processes’.

She said: ‘The BMA and our doctors will no longer tolerate discrimination and bias and while it’s good to have GMC targets what’s needed is wholesale cultural transformation in our NHS, where there is a commitment to equal opportunity and enabling each doctor to progress and achieve their full potential.’

Head of medical at GP indemnity organisation MDDUS Dr Naeem Nazem also argued that ‘there is much more to be done’. 

He said: ‘[The GMC’s] work to address the disproportionate number of doctors from minority ethnic backgrounds who face disciplinary hearings is a start, but while these doctors remain more vulnerable to complaints than others this remains a serious concern for us.’

Today’s report said: ‘We are working towards eliminating differentials in employer referrals by the end of 2026, but we recognise that there may be factors or developments that emerge during this period which might impact on our ability to eliminate differentials altogether.’

It added that these indicators, on the difference in referral rates between either ethnic minority or IMG doctors and white doctors, ‘are expected to move towards our targets and are likely to be near them by the end of 2026’.

Mr Massey said system leaders ‘must not yield to pressures to de-prioritise’ equality, diversity and inclusion initiatives, as there is a ‘clear business case for them’, including benefit to patients.

He said: ‘This report shows change can happen and progress is being made, but there is no room for complacency, by us or by others. Eradicating these issues, for the benefit of medical professionals and patients, means accelerating the pace of change.

‘We will continue to work with others to drive the change that doctors deserve, and we expect our partners across healthcare to do the same. Every doctor from every background deserves to work in an environment where they can achieve their full potential.’

In response to the ‘laptop’ fitness to practise case last year, leaders from across general practice demanded that the GMC take action on the ‘incomprehensible’ decision.

The BMA raised concerns that it would worsen doctors’ fears of the regulator taking a ‘disproportionate and unfair approach’.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

Turn out The Lights 7 June, 2023 5:51 pm

Smell that is dog, is it sheep not it bull.

Anonymous 7 June, 2023 7:05 pm

3 years to eliminate racism.


David Jarvis 8 June, 2023 8:38 am

How are they going to handle complaints by racist patients? Many of those seem to be an issue for especially non-white colleagues and yet taken unchallenged by the powers that be it seems. If I saw some genuine push back in this area I might actually believe them. I often think that thy may consider that their behaviour has failed to protect patients who sufer due to lack of Drs to treat them. How many retired colleagues breath a sigh of relief as they step out from being under the boot for what used to be 40 year careers and is now 30-35 years instead. They treat us all as guilty but not caught yet and yet in many of the scandals like Shipman and Richard Neale the biggest failure was by the GMC themselves.

David Church 8 June, 2023 5:28 pm

I do find it curious that GMC should make a statement about the future referring habits of (mainly white) doctors, medical Directors, and NHS Employers. How much influence have they shown they can have on this behaviour amongst Employers and Managers?
The actual percentage points difference is all in the way you look at it : 0.41 compared to 0.22. Yes, that is a minute figure of 0.19%. Or is it ? My calculator gives an answer of 186 %; or a difference of 86.4 %. (0.41/0.22 x100) or (0.19/0.22 x100) Basically, it is almost TWICE as high for ethnic minorities.
To achieve, by 2025, GMC will need to either reduce ethnic minority doctor referrals by a half; or double referrals of white doctors.
It would be easiest to achieve by paying a bonus to anybody willing to refer a white colleague – perhaps £ 10,000, or a guarantee of no personal investigation and a pass at their revalidation for 5 years?
It might be more in the best interests of patients and doctors, however, of all kinds, to screen referrals MADE by white doctors/Trust managers for maliciousness (there have apparently been quite a few in recent years by medical directors who want to get rid of a coloured colleague who is doing better than they are). If it becomes evident that malicious and racist referrals (like over a laptop request or the wording of an apology where english is second language), have been made, then the GMC should ensure the perpetrating HB/CCG/Trust Medical Director becomes a self-referral for inappropriate behaviour towards a colleague. This would actually reduce the number of inappropriate and malicious referrals BY Employers (although not as quickly as paying people to refer white colleagues could redress the balance!)
I note that the statement appears to be in relation only to referrals by employers. Presumably the GMC has realised that even they could not stop racist patients making referrals – although there remains the option of paying patients to make more complaints about white doctors?? Maybe the target could be reached after all.
i am sorry, but I find the statement quite laughable in it’s apparent naivety (in a mathematical sense, and in how to influence established patterns of behaviour so suddenly – look at smoking cessation and alcohol abuse, for example.)

Not on your Nelly 8 June, 2023 6:07 pm

This article is a satiricle look at what will never happen. Right ?