BMA steps up international doctor support in MRCGP row

The BMA has agreed to publicise fundraising activities for a group of international doctors that has launched a £200k judicial review over claims the MRCGP exam is discriminatory.

Dr Rafik Taibjee: BMA supports international doctors
Dr Rafik Taibjee: BMA supports international doctors

BMA lawyers are also compiling an ‘impact statement’ detailing members’ experiences of the MRCGP exam, which will be used as evidence in the High Court challenge by the British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO).

BAPIO has been granted a judicial review against the RCGP and GMC over the fairness of the clinical skills assessment (CSA) part of the MRCGP exams. BAPIO argues that the CSA is 'unlawfully racially discriminatory', citing evidence that international medical graduates have lower pass rates than white UK candidates.

Claims that the exam is discriminatory have been strongly rejected by the RCGP. A spokesman for the college said earlier this month: ‘We take equality and diversity issues very seriously and strongly refute any allegations that the MRCGP exam is discriminatory.'

The BMA has now agreed to publicise the judicial review and to help BAPIO publicise its fundraising activities by listing them on the BMA website and in its newsletter. BAPIO predicts its own legal fees for the judicial review could reach £200,000.

The BMA and BAPIO are also seeking legal advice to see how the BMA can support the court action further.

According to a report commissioned by the GMC, the failure rate for first CSA attempts is 4.5% for white UK candidates and 17.1% for UK BME candidates. For international medical graduates, the failure rate is 47.7% for white candidates and 65.2% for BME candidates. For white EU candidates, the failure rate is 32.3% and for BME EU candidates, it is 68.8%.

BMA equality and diversity committee chairman Dr Rafik Taibjee told GP that the union had come under fire from members who said it did not do enough to support doctors who qualified abroad.

The judicial review is expected to be heard next year.

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