Vital that confidence is restored in the GMC after landmark case raises concerns over unfair treatment of ethnic minority doctors, warns BMA

Press release from the BMA

Location: England
Published: Wednesday 23 June 2021

Responding to the judgment by Reading Employment Tribunal1 in the case of Dr Omer Karim which upheld complaints that he was discriminated against by the GMC on the grounds of race, and the subsequent decision by the GMC2 to appeal the ruling, BMA council chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said:

“The outcome of this landmark case has caused much anger and distress amongst the medical profession around the discriminatory treatment of ethnic minority doctors. A GMC referral can wreck the lives and mental health of doctors, with some tragically taking their own lives as a result.

“It is morally unacceptable for there to be unequal treatment for any sector of the medical profession in disciplinary processes. It is already known that ethnic minority doctors face the disparity of being twice as likely to be referred by their employers to the GMC, and this important case now raises the issue of unfairness within the GMC's disciplinary processes itself. Ethnic minority doctors are a vital and invaluable part of our NHS workforce, comprising four in 10 of all doctors - it is unacceptable for them to be working in a system in which they feel that the dice is loaded against them.

“Although the GMC is appealing this decision, for many doctors, credibility in its processes has been hugely damaged. It is vital that the GMC openly acknowledges these concerns and demonstrates how it will provide the profession with the confidence that it treats all doctors in an even-handed manner.

“This must include urgently commissioning a comprehensive independent evaluation of its fitness-to-practise decision making procedures, and a commitment to act quickly on its findings – hard working doctors deserve an effective and fair regulator. It is crucial that the GMC’s processes are carried out in an impartial way.

“Throughout the UK’s health and care system, too many doctors from ethnic minorities continue to experience discrimination and disadvantage, ranging from differential attainment of postgraduate examination, poorer career progression, increased levels of bullying and harassment to an ethnicity pay gap. All parts of the NHS have a responsibility to ensure that doctors from all backgrounds are treated equally and fairly.”

ENDS

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. Judgment by Reading Employment Tribunal in the case of Dr Omer is attached
  2. GMC statement on race discrimination Employment Tribunal ruling