BMA vows to monitor progress to tackle bias

Doctors have welcomed the internal GMC review acknowledging that bias exists in the organisation and needs challenging.

The BMA, a longtime campaigner for reform of the council, welcomed ‘this change in approach.’

Dr Latifah Patel

Its equality lead, Dr Latifa Patel, observed it was good to see to see the regulator moving away from repeatedly comforting itself that there was no evidence of bias in its decision-making processes. 

‘The landmark case of Dr Omer Karim, who the GMC was found to have racially discriminated against in a fitness-to-practise case, had shown this was far from true,’ she said.

Only time would now tell if the GMC’s proposed actions to mitigate against bias and provide greater transparency and reassurance would be effective and improve doctors’ confidence in their regulator. 

She said the review rightly highlighted the need to involve stakeholders such as the BMA in future audits.

‘Any future equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI) training must set out explicitly how racism, homophobia and other discriminatory behaviour manifests in the workplace and may affect decision-making, and how the bias towards evidence from institutions against that from doctors will impact those high-stakes decisions.


‘What this review and its associated actions proposes is a much-needed cultural change in how GMC decision-makers look at referrals, which will take significant time and resources to achieve.’

The BMA has long called for an independent comprehensive review of GMC decision-making to ensure doctors have a just, fair and proportionate regulation process. 

Dr Patel added: ‘While this review’s findings and actions are a step in the right direction, the recent case of Dr Arora – where there were multiple missed opportunities for GMC staff to raise concerns – shows there is still a long way to go to address the flaws in the GMC’s fitness-to-practise processes. 

‘We will continue to monitor the GMC’s progress and press for improvements until we have a regulator worthy of the full confidence of UK doctors.’