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Legal case to decide whether doctor's training is discriminatory

A large group of Black and Asian doctors are to mount a legal challenge against the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) and the General Medical Council (GMC) amid claims that the examinations set for GP trainees are inherently discriminatory against non-white doctors, reports The Independent.

The doctors are taking their case to the UK High Court, claiming that the RCGP and the GMC are guilty of breaking equality laws in the way they set the examinations for qualification into General Practice.

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) is supporting the case, bringing a judicial review to look at whether the examination discriminates against candidates from ethnic minorities.

Evidence suggests that white candidates are four times more likely to pass the examinations first time than their non-white counterparts, even if the non-white candidates were also trained in the UK. The same evidence claims that non-white candidates trained abroad were fourteen times less likely to pass than UK-trained white candidates.

The examination requires trainee GPs to sit written assessments, as well as a mock consultation in which an actor poses as the patient whilst the candidate is assessed by a qualified GP.

The General Medical Council (GMC) has already investigated the claims regarding the GP assessment, and concluded that whilst there was no hard evidence of racial bias, there could be some subjective bias and this could be due to racial discrimination.

"We do not want to compromise the quality of doctors who pass this exam," said Dr Ramesh Mehta, the president of BAPIO.

"The system of assessment is extremely unfair and has nothing to do with patient care," he added.

A spokesman for the RCGP declined to comment before any potential court hearing.