GMC’s EDI report shows huge disparities remain – only a genuine cultural transformation will eliminate discrimination

by BMA media team

Press release from the BMA

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 10 March 2022

Responding to the GMC report published today on the progress that it has made to help meet its equality, diversity and inclusion targets, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, BMA chair of council, said:

“All doctors – regardless of characteristic – must be treated with the same levels of respect and dignity while working. While today’s first update from the GMC on its EDI targets shows some areas of progress, disparities continue to affect doctors with many still suffering due to unequal treatment. There is still a long way to go. BMA members continue to report to the Association unacceptable levels of racism, gender inequalities, sexism, disability discrimination and the intersection of all these characteristics. Therefore, the GMC must ensure that its wider EDI strategy tackles all forms of prejudice within the health service.

“For some time now, the BMA has raised concerns about the disproportionate rate of referrals for fitness-to-practise processes for ethnic minority doctors, which can have had a devastating psychological impact. In some cases, it has led to doctors taking their own lives. We would like to be assured that the GMC’s own fitness-to-practise processes are themselves fair in light of a recent employment tribunal judgment which ruled that its processes were discriminatory; this is why the BMA has called for an independent review. The report unfortunately does not address the fact that ethnic minority doctors also face disproportionate internal MHPS processes which can have a similar negative impact on wellbeing.

“It is clear that there remains a desperate need for greater accountability by NHS leaders to ensure inclusive leadership at all levels. By way of transparency, the BMA is calling for Trusts and NHS providers to actively demonstrate inclusive leadership and take appropriate action where this is not achieved. The role of clinical leaders is vital, rather than chasing targets they must be held properly accountable for the organisation’s delivery of inclusion and equal opportunity. This report brings us no closer to the cultural transformation that is desperately required.

“Disappointingly, the report also shows that there has been no improvement in postgraduate differential attainment, which affects the career progression of ethnic minority doctors, and has resulted in an ethnicity pay gap. This demands radical action and, as pointed out in this report, relevant stakeholders – including medical royal colleges – must do all they can to ensure exams are culturally competent and reduce inequality in medical training.

“We urge all of those responsible, from ministers to NHS leaders and the GMC, to do all they can to regain the trust of the profession and end the discriminatory culture within the health service.”

Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.