Intended for healthcare professionals


The GMC, racism, and complaints against doctors

BMJ 1996; 312 doi: (Published 25 May 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;312:1314
  1. Fiona Godlee
  1. Assistant editor, BMJ London WC1H 9JR

    Inadequate data collection and obscure decision making processes make extent of bias hard to judge

    The General Medical Council (GMC) is facing up to its critics. Responsible for overseeing the self regulation of the medical profession in Britain, and criticised in the past for its lack of public accountability,1 the GMC has opened its doors to independent scrutiny. Last year it invited two independent reviews, one by the Audit Commission of its processes for determining doctors' fitness to practise, the other by the Policy Studies Institute to look into suggestions of racial bias in its handling of complaints against doctors.2 The institute's report is published this week.3 Although its authors found no evidence of overt racial discrimination, they conclude that deficiencies in the GMC's data recording and decision making processes make it impossible to tell to what extent racial bias exists. What began as an investigation into one aspect of the GMC's activities has ended up as a serious indictment of its entire process.

    The report includes statistical analysis of all complaints against doctors dealt with by the GMC between September 1993 and August 1994, about 1000 doctors in total. Of these, …

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