A General Medical Council (GMC) report shows a fall in “disproportionate” fitness to practise referrals of ethnic minority doctors by employers.

The GMC has set targets to eliminate all disproportionate referrals from employers about ethnic minority doctors by 2026, and to eradicate disadvantage and discrimination in medical education and training by 2031.

The gap in referral rates during the five years to 2022 was 0.19% (0.41% ethnic minority compared to 0.22% white), down from 0.24% (0.5% ethnic minority, 0.26% white) between 2017 and 2021.

The proportion of employers with referrals that were disproportionate in terms of ethnicity or international primary medical qualification also fell, from 5.3% in 2017-2021 to 4.4% in 2018-2022.

The report shows:

  • The disparity in fitness to practise referrals from employers is on track to continue to reduce towards the GMC’s targets by 2026.
  • Four out of five education and training measures show some year-on-year narrowing of the gap in attainment between white and ethnic minority doctors. The exception is doctors’ self-reported preparedness for their first foundation year post.
  • The GMC is on track to have 20% of its staff from an ethnic minority background by 2026, although it is not currently meeting its target for ethnic minority employees in management roles.

Charlie Massey said:

‘Supportive cultures and inclusive leadership are the most important drivers of compassionate care, and key for the future sustainability of the workforce. System leaders must not yield to pressures to de-prioritise ED&I initiatives. There is a clear business case for them, and it is patients who ultimately benefit.

‘This report shows change can happen and progress is being made, but there is no room for complacency, by us or by others. Eradicating these issues, for the benefit of medical professionals and patients, means accelerating the pace of change.

‘We will continue to work with others to drive the change that doctors deserve, and we expect our partners across healthcare to do the same. Every doctor from every background deserves to work in an environment where they can achieve their full potential.’

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