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International medical graduates given go-ahead to take deaneries to court over CSA preparation



A court ruling has given international GP trainees the go-ahead to take deaneries to employment tribunal for failing to prepare them adequately for the clinical skills assessment exam.

The employment tribunal ruling found that deaneries had a ‘direct discrimination’ case to answer regarding the provision of training that would ‘enable [international medical graduates] to have the same chance of passing the CSA as their white counterparts’.

There are currently 20 international medical graduates pursuing the case through the employment tribunal, but the ruling by Judge [Carol] Porter opens up another avenue for opponents of the exam alongside the judicial review against the RCGP, which is being heard early next month.

The issue has been the subject of huge debate in the past three years, after it emerged that there were huge differences in the pass rates between UK graduates and international medical graduates.

The ruling, made by Manchester employment tribunal, found that the deaneries ‘are service providers’ within the terms of section 56 of the Equality Act and could therefore be taken to an employment tribunal.

However, it also found that claims about whether the CSA is unlawful could not be heard by the employment tribunal.

This followed a previous ruling in the same case, which overruled the possibility of taking the RCGP and the GMC to tribunal, finding that the two bodies did not fit the ‘service provider’ definition, meaning an employment tribunal would lack jurisdiction.

Judge Porter ruled that deaneries should face a claims of direct discrimination for failing to provide adequate training.

She said: ‘The claim of direct discrimination against the third respondents [the Deaneries] is restricted to the assertion that the Deaneries have directly discriminated against the claimants in that they have failed to provide the claimants with such training as would enable them to have the same chance of passing the CSA as their white counterparts.’

A Health Education England spokesperson said: ‘The cases are at an early stage and some preliminary hearings have taken place. Very broadly, the claims involving the allegations that the CSA and its effect are unlawful have been found not to be claims that can be progressed in the employment tribunal. This is the bulk of the claims made. Judicial review is the proper route for such claims but no such claim has been made against HEE.’

‘A further claim has been initiated suggesting that there may be arguable claims relating to the specific support given to trainees. These have been given leave to progress but there are no details stated as yet. It would be premature to comment on these remaining aspects in any detail at this stage and HEE is taking legal advice as to the recent Judgment. The position of all the former deaneries when the claims were made and of HEE is that there is no evidence of which we are aware that any of these trainees have not been supported properly, still less that the reason for any treatment is affected by the race of trainees or any other protected characteristic.’