On the ground: pass the test

A junior doctor’s career hung in the balance when the BMA secured him one last attempt at a medical royal college exam

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 8 December 2021
exam hall

Failing postgraduate exams happens often enough, but it can be expensive, time-consuming and disrupt careers.

Most doctors get there in the end. One junior doctor was in a desperately frustrating position, with his career hanging in the balance.

He had passed all but one of the components of his final medical royal college examination, but he had failed a short-answer question paper four times, the maximum permitted number.

So close to becoming a consultant, it looked like he would fall just short. But there was one highly significant factor that even the doctor himself didn’t know – he was dyslexic.

He only found this out after his fourth attempt when he was assessed by an educational psychologist. It is remarkable, and impressive, that he had reached such an advanced stage in his training, and passed countless tests and exams despite being dyslexic.

He appealed on this basis, and was given another chance, but in the run-up, a close relative died and his mother was ill – and he failed by two points.

This is where the BMA got involved. Working with the law firm Gateley, the employment adviser suggested to the doctor he try an early conciliation claim with ACAS, on the basis of disability discrimination.

This is where ACAS speaks to the claimant and respondent in a dispute and gives the chance to reach an agreement without having to go to an employment tribunal.

It was perhaps the prospect of this which convinced the medical royal college to give the doctor one last chance, on the basis he made no further requests for additional attempts in relation to his disability claim.

And he passed. The doctor is now a consultant. The doctor said: ‘My wife and I really want to thank you for your help and invaluable assistance during the harrowing legal battle.

‘It feels like a dream but I am thankful to God for His mercies and using you guys to support me and my wife those difficult times.’

Without BMA support, it’s unlikely the college would have granted an extra attempt, and the doctor would never have achieved his dream of becoming a consultant.

To talk to an adviser about work-related issues, call 0300 123 1233 or email the BMA

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