The General Medical Council (GMC) has issued a statement in response to the Reading Employment Tribunal accusing it of racial discrimination.

In the case we reported on, the Reading Employment Tribunal upheld the complaints made by “world renowned” Consultant Urologist Mr Omar Karim, that he was discriminated against by the GMC on the grounds of his race.  Amongst other things, the tribunal concluded that “there is a difference in the treatment of the Claimant [Mr Karim] in contrast to Mr L, a white doctor.  We do not consider that there has been a credible explanation for the difference in the treatment.”

The GMC said it has sought legal advice on the ruling and taken the decision to appeal the tribunal’s judgment.

Dame Clare Marx, Chair of the GMC, said:

“We know that many doctors feel discriminated against by the way in which referrals to the GMC are handled, and there remains much for us and others to do to change that. 

“But accepting a flawed tribunal judgment will not help achieve the aims we and others share to tackle inequalities where they exist in disciplinary proceedings for healthcare professionals.” 

“We know and are sorry that this will prolong uncertainty and anxiety for all involved, and we will seek to resolve this as swiftly as possible.” 

“The tribunal wrongly concludes that disproportionate referrals to the GMC by employers constitutes evidence of direct discrimination.”

The GMC said that the in ruling the tribunal wrongly concludes that disproportionate referrals to the GMC by employers constitutes evidence of direct discrimination in Mr Karim’s case. In addition the facts of the comparator case referred to in the hearing differed in key respects from those of Mr Karim’s.

It continued by saying that the “GMC will continue its programme of work to address concerns around discrimination and disproportionate referrals of ethnic minority doctors.” 

This includes:

  • Sharing with employers and health leaders the findings of independent research into the drivers of disproportionate referral of ethnic minority doctors.
  • Taking additional steps to make sure a referral from an employer is appropriate before it is submitted.
  • New targets to eliminate disproportionality in fitness to practise referrals and differential attainment in medical education and training.
  • Continued focus on assuring the GMC’s own ways of working are free from bias through regular audits of our own fitness to practise processes.

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