Responding to an internal GMC review into how the organisation monitors for and mitigates against bias in its decision-making, Dr Latifa Patel, BMA equality lead, said:
“This review acknowledges that bias in the GMC exists and needs to be systematically challenged, rather than simply looking for reassurance that it doesn’t. This change in approach is to be welcomed.
“We have been campaigning for reform of the GMC for years so it is good to see it moving away from repeatedly comforting itself that there is no evidence of bias in its decision making processes. The landmark case of Dr Omer Karim, who the GMC was found to have racially discriminated against in a fitness to practise case, had shown this was far from true.
“Only time will tell if the actions set out today to mitigate against bias and provide greater transparency and reassurance will be effective and improve doctors’ confidence in their regulator. The review rightly highlights the need to involve stakeholders such as the BMA in future audits.
“Any future Equality Diversity and Inclusion (EDI) training must set out explicitly how racism, homophobia and other discriminatory behaviour manifests in the workplace and may affect decision-making, and how the bias towards evidence from institutions against that from doctors will impact those high-stakes decisions.
“What this review and its associated actions proposes is a much-needed cultural change in how GMC decision-makers look at referrals, which will take significant time and resources to achieve.
“The BMA has long called for an independent comprehensive review of GMC decision-making to ensure we have a regulation process that is just, fair and proportionate. While this review’s findings and actions are a step in the right direction, the recent case of Dr Arora (where there were multiple missed opportunities for GMC staff to raise concerns) shows there is still a long way to go to address the flaws in the GMC’s fitness-to-practise processes. We will continue to monitor the GMC’s progress and press for improvements until we have a regulator worthy of the full confidence of UK doctors.”
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.