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GMC says it is ‘not discriminatory’ following Dr Bawa-Garba case

The GMC has refuted claims that there was discrimination in its decision to launch a High Court bid to strike off a junior doctor from the medical register last month.

In response to an open letter from the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) in January, which accused the GMC of treating black and minority ethnic doctors ‘differently and harshly’, the GMC said the accusations were ‘troubling and without merit’.

The GMC’s letter said: ‘We do understand the strength of feeling this tragic case has raised for many doctors. We know we can’t simply undo all the anxiety generated by it but we are committed to listening to doctors and addressing their concerns.

‘However, the charge that the GMC acts in a discriminatory way is troubling and without merit.’

The original letter from BAPIO called on the GMC to make clear what monitoring is in place regarding differential treatment of BME doctors, and how many times the GMC has questioned fitness-to-practise verdicts against non-BME doctors.

The GMC’s letter responded that it conducts ‘detailed research to improve our understanding of what drives overrepresentation of different groups, and whether cases are treated fairly’.

It added: ‘The consistency of our fitness to practise decision-making is also audited independently to ensure it is in line with our published guidance, and is not discriminatory.’

However, Dr Ramesh Mehta, chair of BAPIO, told Pulse that he was ‘not really keen’ on the GMC’s response and plans to write a further open letter to the GMC.

Dr Mehta said: ‘Our main issue was about criminalising a doctor and there’s no mention of that in the response. Our issue was that they shouldn’t have reversed the decision of MPTS and there is hardly any mention of that. 

‘We wanted to find out what they think of systems failures rather than criminalising a doctor but there is hardly anything about it. So we are not really keen.’

The concerns from BAPIO come after the GMC appealed against its own tribunal service, which said that Dr Hadiza Bawa-Garba should be reinstated on the performers’ list following her two-year suspended sentence for gross negligence manslaughter.

Dr Bawa-Garba was subsequently struck off the medical register as a result of the High Court ruling

However following a crowd funding campaign, which has raised over £335,000, Dr Bawa-Garba has decided to appeal the ruling, and is considering appealing the manslaughter conviction from 2015.