Issue 6 - Autumn 2015

Welcome to Issue 6 - Autumn 2015 of the BME Doctors' Forum newsletter

The BME Doctors' Forum meetings

There have been two meetings of the Forum since we published the last newsletter 2014. The first was in January 2015, with a focus on fitness to practise and the second, in June 2015, focused on education and progression. They were both chaired by Professor Iqbal Singh. You can read redacted notes of the meetings here.

January 2015

The meeting in January featured a presentation by His Honour David Pearl, Chair of the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service (MPTS) about how the MPTS has been functioning since its inception. This was an update as he previously met with the forum in 2012. There was also a presentation from Anthony Egerton and Ben Hartley about GMC expert witnesses. This meeting was the first that Susan Goldsmith, Chief Operating Officer and Senior Sponsor for Equality and Diversity at the GMC attended.

June 2015

The meeting in June had a theme of ‘fairness in progression in medical education and training’ and included two presentations. Clare Barton updated members about the CESR/CEGPR routes, and the progress made in streamlining the process. There was also some discussion about the revalidation process. Members were encouraged to complete the survey evaluating the impact of revalidation. The survey is now closed but there are more details in our revalidation survey frequently asked questions factsheet. You can also find more information about how the GMC is evaluating revalidation here.

Dr Vicky Osgood presented about the consultations on introducing regulated credentialing and Generic Professional Capabilities (GPCs). She then gave an overview of the GMC’s Differential Attainment work programme and the work being done to better understand variations in performance. The last part of the meeting was used to discuss matters which forum members themselves wished to raise, this included;

  • the Freedom to Speak Up review
  • unconscious bias and its effects on institutional diversity and decision making
  • ARCP outcomes.

Support for doctors who raise concerns

We’ve recently published our action plan in response to Sir Anthony Hooper’s independent review, which looked at how we engage with individuals who raise concerns in the public interest. As you might know, this report said there is evidence that those who raise concerns may suffer, or believe that they will suffer, reprisals from their employer or from colleagues.

What does our action plan include?

It explains how we will explore the eight recommendations in Sir Anthony’s report, including:

  • Reviewing the processes and guidance we follow when we receive a complaint about a doctor, so we can check if he or she has raised concerns and take this into account.
  • Facilitating discussion with other regulators and organisations about a confidential online tool, so healthcare professionals can record concerns raised.
  • Developing the training for our teams on whistleblowing.

It’s all about making sure we understand the context when an employer refers a doctor to us and making sure the referral is fair. It’s about doing as much as we can to help doctors feel empowered to speak up, while also dealing appropriately with any concerns about their practice.

And as you’ll know, we’re not alone in focusing on this important area. The BAPIO Northwest Division & Patient Safety Forum held a meeting just last month to concentrate on moving forward after the Freedom to Speak Up report.

Find out more

An important part of our plan is talking to key organisations and individuals, so we can take their experiences and knowledge into account. You can read more about our action plan in Anthony Omo’s blog article - Anthony is our Director of Fitness to Practise. He also talks about the tools and resources we have right now to help doctors raise concerns –

We’ll keep you updated on our progress over the coming months, using our newsletters and the BME Doctors Forum.

Credentialing…what could this mean for you? Have your say!

We are consulting on a new process called credentialing. This means that a doctor who has been awarded a credential in a particular field of practice will have this recorded in their entry on the medical register to show they have the appropriate standards of knowledge and skills.

This could also benefit doctors' career development and prospects as they will gain formal recognition for the skills and expertise they have in a specialist field. However there are some views that it will lead to greater bureaucracy and costs for doctors. Not every area of practice will be suitable for a credential – the focus will be on areas of practice that are not currently recognised eg Musculoskeletal and forensic police work, research and leadership/management.

The consultation is open until 4 October 2015. You can answer the questions online on our consultation website.

Assessing doctors professional skills as communicators and leaders – have your say!

By acknowledging, encouraging and embedding the development of high level professional insights, skills and capabilities into medical training we can promote and enable a better and more consistent level of care for patients.

The consultation on a proposed framework for generic professional capabilities (GPCs) ends on the 22 September 2015..

GPCs will include the outcomes that all doctors will have to demonstrate by the end of their postgraduate specialty training. The framework clarifies the core knowledge, skills and behaviours which doctors need and which are common across all medical specialties, such as effective communication, team-working and patient-centred decision making.

There is evidence that other safety critical industries such as aviation have significantly improved their training and performance by developing insights into these important aspects of human behaviour and performance. The ten domains proposed for the framework are:

  1. professional values & behaviours
  2. professional skills (practical and clinical)
  3. professional knowledge
  4. communication
  5. leadership and team working
  6. patient safety and quality improvement
  7. dealing with complexity and uncertainty
  8. safeguarding vulnerable groups
  9. education and training
  10. research

Differential attainment…understanding variations in how different groups of doctors progress

Differential attainment is the term we use to describe variations in educational outcomes between different groups of learners in medical education and training. The GMC have a work programme specifically looking at differential attainment and we have identified some of the trends in outcomes for different groups of doctors. In particular the differences between doctors that are UK and non-UK graduates, between doctors of different ages, ethnicities and gender.

We analysed data across all first round applications to specialty training programmes and found:

  • 77% of women received an offer, compared to 70% of men.
  • 71% of BME applicants with a UK PMQ were offered a place compared to 81% of white applicants with a UK PMQ.
  • 50% European qualified doctors and 36% internationally qualified doctors were offered posts.

We also looked at data on postgraduate examinations in 2014:

  • 71% of candidates from a UK medical school passed (during the year looked at) compared with 43% of IMGs.
  • Women are more likely to pass their exams across specialties, medical schools and post graduate training, compared with men.
  • For UK graduates, across all exams, white candidates are more likely to pass their exams (76% pass rate) compared with their BME counterparts (63.5% pass rate).

We recognise that educational outcomes are expected to vary as a result of doctors’ effort and ability, but the evidence shows that the differences are not exclusively attributable to this. We know that a number of factors relating to individual circumstances, institutional context and the broader landscape of education and training combine to affect the attainment and progression of learners. We understand that this is key in maintaining a diverse doctor workforce to adequately serve a diverse patient population. We are currently mapping the next phase of this work programme.

More information can be found here on the GMC web pages.

The MPTS is now three years old – what has changed?

MPTS Chair His Honour David Pearl commented on what has happened since the inception of the MPTS in 2012;

“In the last three years the MPTS has positively changed the way that hearings are run. They have heard a large number of cases and met all the requirements to hear those cases as quickly as possible. They have set up a quality assurance group that ensures all of the decisions are of the high quality.

Three years ago the procedures in place were very similar to magistrates and crown courts and the panel members were treated as a Jury would be. Now the panel are treated as a professional and independent tribunal sitting in judicial capacity. The MPTS have been separated operationally from the GMC – these are very important fundamental changes to the way that the hearings work.“

The MPTS will make further improvements following changes to legislative, primarily reducing the amount of time taken for cases to be heard. The average case length at the moment is 8 days; the intention is to reduce this to 5 days.”

Read more about this in the MPTS Chair, His Honour David Pearl’s blog article about the improvements and plans for the future.

Become a decision-maker at the GMC and MPTS

There are several roles that are fulfilled by medical and lay associates in decision-making at the GMC and MPTS. If you are interested in supporting us to make deliver fair and robust decisions please contact and you will receive notification of new recruitment campaigns for all associate roles.