In our annual review of performance, we sought further information from the GMC about some areas of its work. We concluded that the GMC continues to meet all our Standards of Good Regulation.
General Standards: equality, diversity and inclusion
The GMC published targets to eliminate disadvantage experienced by some groups of doctors in two areas. It aims to eliminate disproportionate fitness to practise referrals from employers about ethnic minority doctors by 2026, and to eliminate disproportionality and discrimination in medical education and training by 2031. The targets are ambitious and achieving them will rely on the GMC’s ability to influence the behaviour of other organisations. We can see the potential for its targets to stimulate real improvements.
We also sought information about how the GMC ensures fairness in its own processes. It published an independent audit of fitness to practise decisions, which found that all decisions complied with the relevant guidance. The GMC has work in progress to ensure that its processes promote fairness, including independent assessments of its guidance and a review of critical decision points. The GMC’s work on fairness includes action in response to an employment tribunal in June 2021, which upheld a doctor’s complaint that the GMC had discriminated against him on the grounds of race. The GMC has appealed this decision, and the appeal is yet to be heard. We agree that it is appropriate for the GMC to seek to learn from the tribunal findings, regardless of the outcome of the appeal. The outcomes of this work will be important in demonstrating the GMC’s commitment to ensuring its processes promote fairness. We will closely monitor its progress in this area.
Registration: new routes to registration
The GMC launched two new pathways to registration this year. One pathway was developed in response to disruption to its exams for overseas-qualified doctors during the pandemic. The GMC identified three exams which it accepts as comparable to its own test for doctors who qualified abroad to allow them to practise in the UK, provided applicants meet certain conditions.
The other new pathway arose from the transitional arrangements following the UK’s exit from the EU. The GMC said it is now able to carry out additional checks on doctors who hold qualifications from the EEA, such as verifying their qualification and requiring evidence of their knowledge of English. Both these new pathways have scheduled reviews.
Fitness to Practise: case progression
It took the GMC longer to conclude fitness to practise cases this year. We expected this to occur, because of the disruption associated with the pandemic. The GMC has developed plans to help it recover from the disruption. It also introduced some new guidance for decision-makers. The GMC has plans to review the guidance, including feedback from decision-makers and reviewing decisions and data about outcomes. We will monitor the progress of its recovery plan.