GMC to act on results of review into alleged bias

By a staff reporter

An internal review of the risk of bias in the way the GMC operates has resulted in a series of actions the regulator aims to implement during 2023. 

The review was commissioned to check how the organisation monitors for, and mitigates against, bias in its decision-making. 

It has recommended 23 actions, some of which are already being implemented, while others will be progressed in the coming months. 

The GMC said the actions will ensure it actively seeks out and addresses any potential bias in its processes. 

This was a key recommendation in a recently published report into the regulator’s handling of the case of a doctor who faced sanctions, later overturned, after claims she had been dishonest in attempting to obtain a laptop from her employer.* 

The review’s recommendations cover five main areas: 

1. The GMC’s approach to auditing the fairness of its work, which are promised to be more consistent and will involve seeking more external feedback. 

2. Introducing a single set of decision-making principles to increase consistency across the organisation. 

3. Tailoring equality, diversity and inclusion (ED&I) training for GMC staff across different roles. 

4. Publishing more detailed data about GMC fitness-to-practise processes. 

5. Making sure fairness and ED&I are embedded into the way the GMC operates in future, when the Department of Health and Social Care introduces a new regulatory framework for healthcare professionals. 

 

GMC chief executive Charlie Massey said: ‘This was a comprehensive review of processes and decision-making across the GMC. We are already implementing many of its recommendations and work on others will follow as part of our ongoing commitment to equality, diversity and inclusion, and to learning from recent cases.

‘A degree of bias is inherent in human nature and so a fundamental principle of our approach is to look for the risk of bias and to assess the controls we have in place to manage it. The recommendations in this report are key to that.’ 

Report author Laura Harding, who has experience of leading internal reviews working with the Nursing and Midwifery Council, higher education institutions and as a director of a public sector consultancy prior to joining the GMC, said: ‘All humans are biased in some way, even if they are not always aware of it. 

‘It is our responsibility to look for the risk of bias in our work and to mitigate it. I am heartened that many of the improvements we identified are already being implemented and the GMC has made firm commitments to act on the others. 

‘All of us in an organisation such as the GMC make decisions, and no matter how big or small they are, they each have an impact. Managing the risk of bias in those decisions is vital and will result in fairer decisions for everyone who interacts with the GMC.’ 

* In November last year, the GMC apologised after an independent review found it had incorrectly applied a legal test when considering allegations of dishonesty involving Dr Manjula Arora.