Legal action by a group representing Indian-origin doctors in Britain,who allege a bias in the medical practitioner’s exam in the country,will come up for hearing later this week.
The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) will be at the High Court on Friday in a bid to widen the scope of its judicial review into the fairness of the clinical skills assessment (CSA) element of the Membership of the Royal College of General Practitioners (MRCGP) exams,which every trainee doctor has to clear to qualify as a medical practitioner.
BAPIO,which had raised concerns over consistently high failures rates among black and minority ethnic (BME) trainees for years,hopes to widen its legal case to cover the role of the General Medical Council (GMC) as it regulates medical education and training in the UK.
The hearing comes in the wake of a recently released report by a leading academic and GP,Professor Aneez Esmail,who concluded that he could not “confidently exclude bias from the examiners in the way that they assess non-white candidates”.
“We believe the judicial review will be successful. This report will assist us because it has confirmed the facts and the facts are that there are disproportionate pass rates for ethnic minority doctors. We want fairness and equal treatment,” said BAPIO president Dr Ramesh Mehta.
The group’s legal fees have already hit an estimated 50,000 pounds but it has refused to back down over the issue.
It predicts the fees could reach 200,000 pounds but is hopeful the final judicial review case will be concluded by the end of this year.
The failure rate for first CSA attempts was found to be 4.5 per cent for white UK candidates and 17.1 per cent for black and minority ethnic (BME) trainees.
For international medical graduates,including Indians,the failure rate is 47.7 per cent for white candidates and for 65.2 per cent for BMEs.
“My report clearly stated that there were problems. It identified major differences in outcome between British-trained ethnic minority graduates and white graduates,and also showed big differences between international graduates and British graduates,” said Professor Esmail,in reference to a report released in the ‘British Medical Journal’ quoting his ‘Independent Review of the MRCGP’ for the GMC.
A RCGP statement said: “We take equality and diversity issues very seriously and strongly refute any allegations that the MRCGP exam is discriminatory.
“We are incurring legal costs in relation to this matter but our members should be reassured that,as a charity,we are only doing so to the extent appropriate and are keeping them under review.”
Niall Dickson,chief executive of the GMC,said: “We agree with Professor Esmail that there is no room for complacency. We want to work with him. We are duty bound to act where there is evidence of a problem. His report makes a powerful case for action.”.