Large attainment gap for ethnic minority trainee doctors

  • Date: 23 March 2023

TRAINEE doctors from ethnic minority groups are still achieving much poorer outcomes than their white colleagues, according to a new report highlighting persistent inequalities in medical education.

New figures published by the General Medical Council (GMC) revealed an 18 percentage point difference between the specialty exam pass rates of UK-trained Black doctors and UK-trained white doctors – 62 per cent compared to 79 per cent.

The discrepancy was compounded for UK Black trainees from poorer economic backgrounds who had a pass rate of 59 per cent compared to 76 per cent for white trainees from poorer backgrounds.

UK Black trainees are more likely to have their training programme extended than UK white trainees – 5.3 per cent compared to 2.6 per cent.

UK Black trainees are also less likely to receive an offer when applying to specialty training than other UK qualified groups (75 per cent rate offer compared to 82 per cent for UK white trainees.)

The data is set out in Tackling disadvantage in medical education. It follows a commitment by the GMC in 2021 to eliminate discrimination, disadvantage and unfairness in medical education and training by 2031.

The report states that the high-level findings highlight “the extent to which inequalities persist within medical education, and in particular the poorer outcomes for UK graduates of black or black British heritage.”

Commenting on the report, Health Education England (HEE) chief executive Dr Navina Evans said: “Highlighting the inequalities in postgraduate medical training is important to make a difference, it is how we judge progress.

"HEE is working with the GMC, medical schools, royal colleges, placement providers and doctors’ groups because only by working together can we create the long-lasting change needed to improve the experience of doctors at all stages of their training and career.”

The Faculty of Intensive Care Medicine welcomed the report and said: “It is of particular concern that no progress has been made in reducing the attainment gap between doctors of different ethnicities as well as gender. It is clear that all of us working in medical education need to consider what additional action we can take to change this.”

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