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GMC will look at problems of discrimination

BMJ 1994; 308 doi: (Published 04 June 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1513
  1. L Beecham

    The General Medical Council is to set up a working party, which will be chaired by one of the lay members, Mrs Rani Atma, to examine how it should respond to suggestions that discrimination, particularly racial discrimination, might occur in the way that complaints are dealt with. The problem has arisen because of the disproportionate number of doctors from ethnic minorities who are reported to the council, but as the president pointed out last week the council has no control over how a complaint is made. Sir Robert Kilpatrick was convinced, however, that once a complaint was received the actions taken by the screeners and the council's committees were free from discrimination on racial grounds. The ethnic background of doctors or patients, their religion, and the countries in which the doctors qualified were irrelevant to the consideration of any allegations. The council also had to be able to defend itself against any contrary accusation that it was discriminating on racial or other grounds against aggrieved patients rather than against doctors.

    Several speakers endorsed the president's view but they welcomed the proposal to set up a working party. Dr Sriramashetty Venugopal hoped that the working party would be given wide terms of reference and would continue to consult with organisations such as the Commission for Racial Equality and the Patients Association. Professor Neil Kessel said that the working party must consider the problems faced by non-white doctors who qualify in Britain as well as overseas qualified doctors.

    Improving the GMC's public relations

    The president will chair another working party to examine how the council communicates with the …

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