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UK ethnic minority GPs twice as likely to face sanction

UK-trained black and minority ethnic (BME) GPs are 30% more likely than white UK medical graduates to have a complaint made against them, and twice as likely to face sanctions from the GMC, according to a new report.

The GMC’s fourth State of Medical Education and Practice report, which looked at the differences between UK-graduated BME and white GPs for the first time, found 0.8% of UK BME GPs who were investigated over a four-year period from 2010-13 received a sanction or warning – double the number of UK white GPs (0.4%). A similar pattern was seen for BME doctors who graduated outside the UK, either within the European Economic Area (EEA), or outside. 

The GMC concluded BME doctors were more likely to receive sanctions or warnings because they had disproportionately high rates of complaints brought by health authorities and investigations related to fraud. 

The report covered more than 25,000 complaints and 10,000 investigations made against doctors from 2010 to 2013. It showed 14% of all GPs practising in the UK were the subject of a complaint, but fewer than 1% were given a GMC sanction or warning. Complaints to the regulator in 2013 about doctors increased by 5.7% on 2012; the overall increase since 2010 is 64%.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said: ‘We do need to understand why the pattern of complaints and the outcomes of cases vary – and the latest evidence suggests some of the issues surrounding the practise of these doctors are more likely to result in tougher sanctions.’

But Professor Aneez Esmail, a professor of general practice at the University of Manchester and an international expert on racism in healthcare services, said: ‘I don’t think BME people are more criminally minded than white people, or BME doctors are any worse, but when a white doctor does something wrong, the threshold for following it up is higher. I commend the GMC for recognising the disparities.’

Data lowdown - November inforgraphic