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Legal challenge to GP exam fails in High Court

The High Court has ruled that the examinations set by the Royal College of General Practitioners is lawful, but rules that it is time for the profession to address the differences in pass rates between white and non-white candidates, reports The Independent.

The legal challenge was brought by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO), who claimed that examinations set by the Royal College of General Practitioners discriminate against non-white candidates.

The challenge concerned a practical element of the examinations which doctors must pass before becoming fully qualified as a GP. The section is known as the Clinical Skills Assessment, and pits candidates against an actor in a pre-determined scenario.

Statistics cited by BAPIO suggest that white candidates pass the CSA first time in 96.1% of cases, whereas their black counterparts pass first time only 66.7%, and of the South Asians population only 36.7% first time.

The legal case asked the High Court to conduct a judicial review of the decision by the Royal College of General Practitioners (RCGP) not to review the examination in light of the concerns raised by BAPIO.

Dismissing the case, the High Court ruled that the examination format was not discriminatory. Mr Justice Mitting ruled that the exam was a proportionate way to assess candidates.

However, the judge added that whilst the claimant, BAPIO, had failed in their legal case, they had won a moral victory, and called on the RCGP to address the statistics presented to them to ensure that the assessment of doctors was fair.

Maureen Baker, the chair of the RCGP said: "The RCGP has been at the forefront of identifying the differences in pass rates for some time...We have always been, and remain, concerned by this issue, and are determined to continue to work with all other interested stakeholders in both understanding it, and looking to remedy it."