Bid to end disadvantages for ethnic minority doctors

A NEW strategy has been launched to end the "disadvantage and discrimination" faced by ethnic minority doctors throughout their careers.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has set a number of targets which it hopes will eliminate disproportionate complaints from employers about Black and minority ethnic (BME) clinicians and eradicate disadvantage and discrimination in medical education and training.

The plan aims to reduce long-standing issues around the disproportionate fitness to practise referrals of BME doctors to the GMC and lower educational attainment amongst medical students.

Doctors from ethnic minorities are twice as likely to be referred to the GMC by their employers for fitness to practise concerns than white doctors, while the referral rate for doctors qualifying outside of the UK is three times higher than that for UK doctors.

In education and training, exam pass rates show a 12 per cent difference between white and BME UK graduated trainees – rising to more than 30 per cent for overseas graduates.

The regulator plans to meet its targets in a number of ways, including working to ensure workplaces are more inclusive and supportive, and requiring organisations to demonstrate that a GMC referral is appropriate before it is submitted.

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said the regulator’s goals were "ambitious but achievable".

He said: "Sadly it is clear that unacceptable levels of inequality exist in the health system. Change to eradicate the disadvantages many doctors face is long overdue.

"Setting ourselves these specific targets will drive us to effect real change, which we can hold ourselves to account for. It will require close working with employers, regulators, education and training bodies, and many other stakeholders to achieve these goals."

The strategy was welcomed by MDDUS chief medical officer Dr John Holden.

He said: "Decisions taken to refer colleagues [to the GMC] cases should be taken only where there are justified concerns about a doctor’s fitness to practise medicine, including the interests of upholding the principles of patient safety.

"It is right that the GMC is taking these steps to ensure that the criteria for making such determinations apply fairly and equally to all doctors."

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