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RCGP legal fees could hit £100k over exam row

Exclusive The RCGP could spend up to £100k fighting a judicial review into the fairness of the MRCGP exam for international medical graduates, Pulse can reveal.

A letter sent by the college’s solicitors to the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin – dated 21 August and obtained by Pulse – reveals that the RCGP has already spent £42,000 fighting the legal action over the MRCGP.

It also reveals that the college estimates the overall cost of fighting the judicial review could total £97,000.

BAPIO has been granted a judicial review on the differential pass rates for IMGs and UK graduates taking the MRCGP after talks between the college and international doctors’ groups broke down earlier this year.

Court documents reveal that BAPIO is claiming that the assessment is directly discriminatory and should be declared unlawful. But a recent leaked draft copy of the GMC-commissioned review into the MRCGP exam concluded ‘significant differences’ in failure rates between different ethnic groups in the clinical skills examination are unlikely to be the result of bias.

In the letter, the RCGP’s solicitors Clyde and Co confirm that the costs for the college are likely to nudge six figures.

It says: ‘As you will be aware, our client has already incurred significant costs in relation to this claim and its legal fees to date have exceeded £45,000. We estimate that our client will incur an additional £52,000 in legal fees in preparing and submitting the detailed grounds for contesting the claim.’

The letter also demands that BAPIO provides the potential costs that it would have to pay if the judicial review goes against it and places it into a bank account as ‘security’ for the college.

No date has been set for the judicial review, though there is to be a hearing in October to decide whether the GMC has charges to answer.

An RCGP spokesperson said: ‘We take equality and diversity issues very seriously and strongly refute any allegations that the MRCGP exam is discriminatory. We are incurring legal costs in relation to this matter but our members should be reassured that, as a charity, we are only doing so to the extent appropriate and are keeping them under review.’

Dr Ramesh Mehta, president of BAPIO, said: ‘We believe the application for costs in advance is extremely unfair and we will in no way be paying the costs in advance.’