Issue 5 - Winter 2014

Welcome to Issue 5 - Winter 2014 of the BME Doctors Forum Newsletter

The BME Doctors Forum meetings

The last meeting took place in May 2014 and was chaired by Professor Iqbal Singh. This was the first meeting of the GMC BME Doctors Forum that Chief Executive Niall Dickson attended as Senior Sponsor for Equality and Diversity. .
Alastair Henderson, Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) Chief Executive, was at the meeting. He gave an update on some of the work being coordinated by AoMRC looking at differences in attainment for doctors on examinations and assessments.
The GMC gave a presentation about changes to the specialist and GP registration process. It sets out a number of initiatives to improve the process for doctors using the equivalence routes including:

  • setting up an Equivalence Advisory Group with an independent Chair,
  • an annual report on progress against the recommendations in the review of the equivalence routes,
  • providing more information to candidates.

NatCen Social Research summarised their research on perceptions of the GMC. The main findings of the research were:

  • The majority of doctors taking part in the survey were confident about the way that the GMC regulates doctors (79%) and the way it protects the health and safety of the public (85%).
  • There is a difference in the way doctors see the GMC and its functions depending on their ethnicity and PMQ. BME doctors and non-UK qualified doctors had greater confidence than their White and UK qualified counterparts, and place greater value on the GMC. BME doctors and non-UK qualified were also the groups most likely to be concerned about the fairness of how the regulator carries out its activities.

The report and executive summary of the findings.

The next meeting of the GMC BME Doctors Forum is due to take place in January 2015.

Niall Dickson at the BAPIO conference

Niall Dickson at the BAPIO conference with Dr Ramesh Mehta and Dr JS Bamrah

GMC Chief Executive Niall Dickson was one of the main speakers at this year’s BAPIO National Conference, which took place in Manchester over the weekend of 28-30 November.

Niall shared a platform with NHS England’s Medical Director, Professor Sir Bruce Keogh. He shared his perspective on four critical challenges facing healthcare at the moment: increasing financial pressures on the NHS, concerns about doctors increasing year on year, the role of revalidation in driving up standards of care, and the differences in outcomes for some doctors on exams and assessments.

Niall said that one of the factors in the increasing volume of complaints being dealt with by the regulator is that it is much easier to do so. He noted that there is no evidence that the increase in the number of complaints being raised is resulting in diminishing standards of care.

Have your say! Education standards and guidance for doctors

Give us your views on significant changes to the regulation of medical education and practise in the UK. The consultation on Confidentiality guidance for doctors is happening now and you can give your views here.

Early in 2015 we will also be consulting on a new single set of standards for the delivery of medical education and training, which will replace the current standards in Tomorrow’s Doctors and The Trainee Doctor. Our standards are the basis of all our work to assure the quality of medical education and training, and we want to encourage all those interested to share their views with us and offer comments on the draft standards.

The consultation on standards for education and training will run from 28 January to 24 March 2015 and will be available on our website. You can find out more about the work we’ve done reviewing the standards at

Make sure you can revalidate

In order to revalidate you must keep your connection to a designated body up to date. This is the organisation that arranges your annual appraisal and will recommend whether you can revalidate. Update your details on GMC Online at

If you’re not sure which organisation is your designated body, check on our online tool

If you don’t have a connection, it’s important that you tell us so we can provide you with information for your revalidation. You can also do this on GMC Online at

Fairness in Exams and Assessments

The GMC is continuing to build its programme of work on monitoring and improving fairness in exams and assessments. At the moment we are working on:

  • A second phase of research recommended by the Esmail report, looking at doctors at risk of failing GP exams and how they can be given support.
  • A project to collect and analyse exam data across medical royal colleges which will help us to investigate fairness systematically across training programmes.
  • Wider work with colleges to look across the training and support they have, to develop equality and diversity policies and carry out equality analysis when developing curricula and assessments.
  • Working closely with the Academy, LETBs and other interested parties like BAPIO. For example, developing requirements for colleges and faculties in relation to examiners and identifying opportunities to support doctors in some areas.
  • Rolling out the pilot of the Welcome to UK Practice programme to provide doctors who are new to practising in the UK with an understanding of the ethical standards.

We want to be proactive in monitoring doctors through training and identifying points where they might need additional support. GMC initiatives like analysing this year’s data from the Annual Review of Competence Progression (ARCP) will help us to do this.

We know that this work on fairness in exams and assessments is complex and multifaceted. In 2015 we will continue the work that has already begun –working with partners to remove unfair outcomes and maintain patient safety.

A new online resource to support doctors in their day-to-day care of older patients

We have worked closely with partner organisations, including the British Geriatrics Society and Age UK, to create Better care for older people. The resource gives practical advice, including from leading clinicians, on how to put older patients first and use GMC guidance to handle their clinical, emotional and psychological needs.

At the core of the resource is a series of videos featuring interviews with older patients. Their experiences of dealing with doctors, from feeling that they have been pushed aside because of their age to the importance of seeing the same doctor, helps put the GMC’s guidance into context and is a strong reminder of the importance of placing the patient at the centre of care.

The resource also contains a mixture of guidance, case studies, scenarios, articles and tips to prepare doctors for caring for the growing number of older patients.

Over 65s make up over two thirds of NHS patients in the UK1 and there are now more people living with complex, and multiple, long-term conditions than ever. Clinicians need to be able to respond clearly, effectively and compassionately to their needs, and this new GMC resource will help them support patients in being active participants in their own care.

Niall Dickson, Chief Executive of the General Medical Council, said:

‘We know that care of older people in this country is too often not good enough - doctors have a key role in devising and providing treatment, co-ordinating care and in overseeing the whole process - we hope these learning materials will stimulate discussion and help to support doctors working with older people. The reality is that most medical care is already centred around later life and in the future this is going to be even more the case. We already have examples of fantastic care - we all need to try and make sure this becomes the norm even in a healthcare system where resources are becoming increasingly tight.’

Professor John Young, National Clinical Director for Integration and Frail Elderly for NHS England said:
‘Doctors must be prepared to play their part in a modern health care system that provides skilful, compassionate and joined-up care for people who have a multitude of health conditions. It is good to see the GMC is doing work to support doctors in this area.’

Better care for older people will be kept up to date throughout the year with new material.

Web News: New blog post: Better care of older people starts with communication and integration


Work for the GMC as an associate

There are several roles that are fulfilled by medical and lay associates in decision making at the GMC. If you are interested in supporting the GMC deliver fair and robust decision making look on the recruitment pages for the GMC and Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service for up to date recruitment campaigns. Look out for the next campaign recruiting PLAB examiners in early 2015.