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by Tom Freeman
22 July 2016
Ethnic minority doctors face barriers to career progression, says General Medical Council

Ethnic minority doctors face barriers to career progression, says General Medical Council

Health - credit PA

Black and minority ethnic (BME) medical graduates are less likely to succeed than their white counterparts, according to research by the General Medical Council (GMC).

Analysing exams and recruitment data, the GMC found graduates from ethnic minorities performed less well in exams, with those who gained their primary qualification outside Europe even less likely to do well.

They also face barriers progressing in their careers, the research found.


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The average medical exam pass rate is 71 per cent across the UK, but falls to 63.2 among ethnic minorities.

The figures were caused by "unconscious bias" in assessments, recruitment and day-to-day working, including those stemming from language barriers, the GMC said.

GMC chief executive Niall Dickson said the professional standards body would do “everything it can” to provide support in training.

“This is a complex problem – not unique to medical training – and we are at the early stages of understanding its causes,” he said.

“These are difficult to untangle and influence and, unfortunately, there are no quick fixes. However, we want to work with everyone involved to make the system as fair and supportive as possible.”

Health training north of the border is overseen by NHS Education for Scotland. The special health board's medical director Professor Stewart Irvine said the GMC research provided “valuable insights” into the challenges faced by many doctors.

New approaches have been introduced in Scotland to provide “a robust support network” for BME doctors, he said.

“Nevertheless, this report reminds us that risks, vulnerability and personal relationships are often complex, and if we are to give our staff the best possible chance to excel, we need to do more to address the challenges that exist," Irvine added. 

“We look forward to working with the GMC, Scottish Government and other partners to take this work forward.”

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