Overseas doctors face more serious GMC action

Doctors who qualified outside the UK and are referred to the GMC are more likely to be subject to "high-impact decisions" than UK-qualified doctors, according to research published by the BMJ.

Researchers from King’s College London reviewed the background to 7,526 GMC inquiries concerning 6,954 doctors between 1 April 2006 and 31 March 2008 and assessed how many inquiries were referred for further investigation, how many were investigated and then referred for adjudication, and how many resulted in doctors being erased or suspended from the medical register.

The results showed that at the initial GMC stage (triage), 29 per cent of inquiries concerning UK-qualified doctors had a high-impact decision compared with 43 per cent for EU doctors and 46 per cent for non-EU doctors.

The researchers could identify no clear reason why overseas doctors do worse in GMC fitness to practise processes than their UK-trained peers. It may be that real differences exist in fitness to practise between groups of doctors who are referred to the GMC but also there is the possibility that the GMC processes discriminate against certain groups of doctors.

They conclude that it is "difficult to reach a conclusion that clearly supports either of these potential explanations and both might be valid."