The General Medical Council must do more to address concerns of racial bias in its regulatory work, says BMA

by BMA media team

BMA press release.

Location: England
Published: Monday 12 June 2023

The BMA will continue to support a consultant urological surgeon in his discrimination case against the General Medical Council (GMC) after an independent employment appeal tribunal overturned a 2021 tribunal result, which found the GMC had racially discriminated against Mr Omer Karim.

The initial employment tribunal triggered the GMC to carry out an internal review to improve fairness and transparency in processes, such as fitness-to-practise proceedings. At the time, the GMC pledged to take steps to tackle racial bias in its decision making, and so regardless of the outcome of this case the BMA is of the view that the GMC must continue with that work to reach a point where their processes are no longer racially biased. The GMC also needs to improve doctors’ confidence – particularly ethnic minority doctors - in it as a regulator.  

Dr Latifa Patel, chair of the BMA’s representative body and equality lead, said: “The initial concerns raised by Mr Karim about his treatment by the GMC remain valid, so we will be supporting him as he considers potential next steps, including the possibility of an appeal of the decision of the appeal tribunal. For some time now our members have reported concerns about racial discrimination within GMC processes, and there is an ever-growing array of evidence that there are racial disparities in the outcomes for doctors in GMC processes 1-5. The BMA has carried out significant work to support doctors in tackling inequalities and bias in regulatory processes, and we remain unequivocally committed to tackling racial discrimination. 

“Regardless of the appeal tribunal’s decision today, the BMA continues with its call, in Delivering Racial Equality in Medicine, for regulators to have increased accountability and explain the racial disparities in their outcomes, as well as more investment into root-cause analysis, and evaluation of intervention. Almost half of all NHS doctors are from ethnic minority backgrounds and our profession will no longer tolerate any form of discrimination.”

The BMA will discuss with Mr Karim the support he needs as he decides on next steps.


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.

  1. GMC’s Fair to refer?  (2019)
  2. GMC targets elimination of disproportionate complaints and training inequalities (2021)
  3. Co-chairs of Dr Arora case review publish findings (2022)
  4. Reviewing how we approach fairness and bias (2023)
  5. Howlett Brown review of how we audit the fairness of our work (2022)