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BMA wades into row over MRCGP failure rates for international medical graduates

The RCGP has not gone far enough in addressing concerns over the pass rates for international medical graduates taking the clinical skills assessment part of the MRCGP exam, the BMA GP trainees subcommittee has said.

The committee said the RCGP should consider recording the CSA as standard, a view that has also been expressed by international doctors groups.

The intervention by the BMA marks a new stage in the row over the higher failure rates for international medical graduates taking its CSA exam.

Pulse revealed last year that the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) was in the process of taking advice on a group legal action with regards to the examination – including the possibility of a judicial review.

It said the RCGP deserved credit for being transparent in publishing examination data and publishing a list of frequently asked questions, but said this ‘does not go far enough’.

The letter from subcommittee chair Dr Krishna Kasaraneni to RCGP chief examiner Sue Rendel, dated 9 January, said the BMA had been contacted by concerned members. Click here to read the full BMA letter

Dr Kasaraneni wrote: ‘A view communicated to the subcommittee by a number of BMA members prior to the meeting was that there is something intrinsic to the operation of the CSA that means it discriminates unfairly against IMGs.

‘While we have been provided with no evidence to substantiate these claims, there was some support for this suggestion amongst members of the subcommittee.’

In a separate letter, also sent to the RCGP, 18 trainers said there was evidence that trainees deemed competent by their trainers were failing the exam multiple times. Click here to read the letter from trainers

The letter, obtained by Pulse, expressed concern ‘that the significant difference in the success rates of this examination appears to be based on ethnicity’.

It added: ‘A disparity in pass rate of this magnitude neither existed in old MRCGP nor is it heard of in any other comparable examination internationally. There has been anecdotal evidence that trainees deemed competent by their trainers, considered to be the best predictors of trainees least likely to struggle, are ending up failing the examinations multiple times.’

The college is meeting with the various international doctor groups, COPGED and the GPC GP trainees subcommittee later this month to discuss the issue.

The RCGP said: ‘We are very grateful that the BMA GP trainee sub-committee has shared its concerns with us directly. We are now considering the points made and will be responding shortly.’