Exclusive: BAPIO hails watershed year for BME doctors

The British Association of Physicians of Indian Origin (BAPIO) has hailed 2014 as a 'watershed year' after its legal case against the RCGP over MRCGP exam pass rates for for black and minority ethnic (BME) doctors 'woke up the establishment'.

Dr Ramesh Mehta: watershed year for BME GPs (Photo: BAPIO)

Speaking ahead of the BAPIO annual conference in Manchester, Dr Ramesh Mehta said the establishment ‘seemed to be not bothered’ about the ‘obvious’ differential pass rates between white and BME candidates until the group launched its legal challenge.

Although it lost the case in April, Judge Mr Justice Mitting praised BAPIO for a ‘moral victory’.

Leading politicians and NHS figures, including prime minister David Cameron and NHS England chief executive Simon Stevens have sent the group messages of support ahead of the conference, which runs from Friday 28 to Sunday 30 November.

Relentless dedication

Mr Cameron's message said: 'I have huge respect and admiration for the doctors and nurses of Indian heritage who serve the NHS day in day out with such relentless dedication, skill and care. Doctors from India, Pakistan, Bangladesh, Sri Lanka and Nepal have been here since the very beginning of the NHS and today there are over 40,000 of you helping to deliver a world-class health service for all.'

He added: ‘I would like to express my gratitude to you and your colleagues for the outstanding, positive and historic contribution you make to the country and in doing so make our NHS the envy of the world.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt also paid tribute to BAPIO for the ‘excellent work it does to champion international medical graduates as providers of world-class, compassionate care’. Diversity is ‘one of the NHS’s greatest strengths’, he added.

Labour shadow health secretary Andy Burnham said the conference was testament to the achievements of BAPIO. ‘It is through associations like BAPIO that [doctors of Indian origin] can get the right support and encouragement, and it is gratifying to see that many will showcase their achievements at the national conference,’ he said.

Attainment rates

The conference will include talks on how BME doctors contribute to the NHS and progress to date on improving the ‘differential attainment’ of BME doctors.

Dr Mehta told GP that BAPIO was pleased with how the RCGP was taking action to tackle problems with the controversial CSA exam. Guidance released in October to help prepare candidates for the exam was ‘a move forward to our point of view’, he said.

The conference will also mark the launch of BAPIO’s Fighting Fit campaign, a free programme it intends to roll out in schools to help tackle childhood obesity. 

Dr Mehta said: ‘The annual conference is an opportunity to promote good medical practice, earn CPD points, network and also have some fun. But it is also an opportunity to reflect on the activities of last year.’

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