Friday, 23 October 2009

GMC Backed Down on Ethnicity Data Collection

The material below was written by Dr Sushant Varma. He details the evidence on Race Discrimination at the General Medical Council. Dr Varma's work directly led up to the change in the data collection procedures at the General Medical Council. The GMC commenced ethnicity data collection in 2007. Previously, no one could sue the GMC successfully or establish racial discrimination due to the lack of statistics. Discrimination law is dependent on statistics.

This was the main downfall in those who sued the GMC. Dr Sushant Varma noted this and made a formal complaint to the then Commission of Race Equality. Both Dr Pal and Dr Varma formally requested an investigation into the GMC citing that the GMC was in breach of the Race Relations Act. We pointed out that for 100 years plus, the GMC purposely failed to collect ethnicity data so that there was no finding of racial discrimination against them. An absence of statistics meant it was impossible to make a evidential finding of race discrimination.

In 2007, the response from the CRE was as follows

"As stated in my previous e'mail , the Enforcement and Public Duty team is currently in communication with the GMC , regarding allegations of a disproportionate representation of overseas doctors on their Fitness to Practice Panel investigations . This is a specific issue that we have become increasingly aware of and are therefore making enquiries on it in order that we can establish the best cause of action. We are also considering a similar approach with regards to the treatment of BME doctors"

As a direct result of this complaint supported by a number of members of Doctors4Justice, the CRE recommendations to the GMC effectively forced them to collect ethnicity data. Congratulations to Dr Varma who made history by this excellent research and work.

Dr Varma and Dr Pal's arguments to the CRE were cut and pasted for the GMC's document on ethnicity data here. The document trail between the GMC, CRE and ourselves detail the processes that led up to this landmark change. The GMC have marketed this issue as if it was miraculously their idea. The fact is that they refused to collect data until they were forced into a corner by the CRE.

GMC and Racial Discrimination - by Dr Sushant Varma -2006/2007

The evidence suggests that the GMC are tougher on foreign doctors if you read this article GMC tougher on foreign doctors (1) written in 2003 you will see evidence of this.

Concern was raised on this issue in Dame Janet Smith�s 5th report to the Shipman inquiry (2). Here the high court judge commented on the work of the policy studies institute in 1996, 2000 and 2003 finding the same

In February 2005 (3) Dr Surendra Kumar wrote an article in BIDA news (British International Doctors Association) expressing concern about the disproportionate number of overseas doctors facing hearings at the GMC. In response the president of the GMC said this is due to the fact that overseas doctors are more likely to be referred to the GMC. Whilst that may be partly true I have no doubt that there is discrimination.

Indeed if you go to you will see a recent story entitled BAPIO raises the issue of disproportionate disciplinary actions against ethnic minority doctors with the GMC. President Professor Sir Graeme Catto assures action. It seems that three years on nothing has changed.

Although the president- Professor Sir Graeme Catto has partially explained the problem by saying that a disproportionate number of overseas doctors are referred to the GMC (4) I have no doubt that there is discrimination.

For example Dr Peter Wilmshurst wrote a beautiful article (5) showing all sorts of issues. He has found gross inconsistencies as have I. For each time a foreign doctor gets disciplined by the GMC I can give you details of how a white doctor does worse and gets away with it.

For example if you look at (6) you will see an article showing how a final year medical student was caught cheating in her medical finals. I now have official confirmation that she faced no penalty.

If you look at my website you will see that I was cheated of my medical degree due to wilful manipulation of evidence and procedures to ensure I failed exams. It reached such an extent that I was forced to have to take my exams externally. However after qualifying in medicine externally my medical school dean wrote to the GMC president alleging fraud. The president said that there were no grounds to take any action. 5 years in September 2006 on the GMC erased me from the medical register for precisely that. The GMC did nothing about those responsible for manipulating my exam results. (7).However on 21 December 2006 the GMC wrote to me after I made representations to the Information Commissioner saying that they had found memos showing that in August 2001 they knew that they could not take action against me on this matter.

In my case several facts are clear.

In 1998 a lecturer was caught manipulating evidence and procedures to ensure a non white student failed exams- an exam decision was overturned from fail to pass. The GMC did nothing. (7)

In 2000 a student at University College London was caught cheating in her finals- the GMC did nothing (6)

In 2001 a professor of medicine is caught manipulating evidence and procedures to ensure a non white student failed exams (

Instead of taking action against the professor and lecturer the GMC takes action against the student.

I would again ask that all FTC members sign my online petition.

(1) GMC tougher on foreign doctors 14 February 2003

(2) Chapter 17 The Shipman Inquiry

(3) President�s Report BIDA news February 2005

(4) President looks back on a year of changes (page 4) GMC news June 2004

(5) The General Medical Council a personal view Cardiology news October/November 2006

(6) Cheating at medical school British Medical Journal 12 August 2000

(7) Sushant Varma vs. Dr Steve Peters GMC reference FPD/1998/1234

Update on petitions

Since the preceding article was written the 10 Downing Street website has made itself available for petitions. Members of Freedom to Care are recommended additionally to sign the following petitions.

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Abolish the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom.'

'We the undersigned petition the Prime Minister to Investigate Allegations of Institutional Racism at the General Medical Council.'

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