Appendix - useful resources

What do we expect of medical education organisations and employers

More information on the forms of discrimination

Direct discrimination

Organisations have to avoid a learner being treated less favourably than another learner because of their disability. A disabled learner would show this by comparing how they are treated with someone without a disability. This doesn't have to be an actual person. The learner can show evidence that another person would be treated differently.

  • An example of direct discrimination would be a refusing to consider an application from a disabled student because you believe they will not be able to complete the degree.
  • It is not direct discrimination against a non-disabled learner to treat a disabled learner more favourably. For example, a learner with dyslexia may be given longer to complete their exam. A non-disabled person asks for more time to complete their exam as they accidentally missed a question, but this is rejected. This would not be unlawful direct discrimination (Equality and Human Rights Commission).

Indirect discrimination

Organisations have to make sure their everyday 'provisions, criteria and practices' (simply put, the way things are done) for all learners do not particularly disadvantage people with a disability. It doesn't matter whether this is intentional or not.

  • This applies when an organisation cannot show the way they do things is justified as a 'proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim'. Legitimate aims for medical education might be maintaining academic and other standards or ensuring the health and safety and welfare of students, doctors and others.
  • If an organisation has not complied with their duty to make reasonable adjustments it may be difficult to show a measure was proportionate.
  • A provision, criterion or practice can be interpreted widely and in the context of studying or training in medicine, a provision, criteria, or practice may include: criteria for assessments, criteria for progressing, criteria for attending certain components of the course, local policies, rules and regulations.
  • For example, all students are told they have to submit an assignment electronically and also physically at their tutor's office by a certain deadline in order for it to be fully marked. If some of the tutors' offices are not accessible for students with mobility problems, then this could be indirect discrimination, unless a reasonable adjustment is made for those students (eg to hand in their assignments to another accessible location or only submit their assignments electronically).
  • For example, a doctor is not allowed in certain parts of the hospital because of the equipment they need to assist them in moving. This could be indirect discrimination unless the hospital can show this is a proportionate means of protecting health and safety through a risk assessment.

Discrimination arising from a disability

Organisations have to avoid treating learners unfavourably because of something connected with their disability. This is different from both direct and indirect discrimination. The treatment is not because of the protected characteristic of disability, but something connected with their disability. For example its effect or outcome of the disability, such as an inability to walk unaided or disability-related behaviour.

  • Again, this applies when the organisation cannot show their measure is justified as a 'proportionate means of achieving a legitimate aim', such as maintaining standards or ensuring the health and safety of students, doctors and others.
  • If an organisation has not complied with their duty to make reasonable adjustments it may be difficult to show a measure was proportionate.

Organisations have to avoid victimisation and harassment.


Treating someone less favourably because they have made a complaint of discrimination or are thought to have done so; or because they have supported someone else who has made a complaint of discrimination.

  • For example, a medical school becomes aware that one of their students has given documentation to the GMC as they are concerned their medical school is not complying with the standards for providing reasonable adjustments to disabled students. The medical school calls the student in to discuss their behaviour and implies they will receive a written warning about it.


Unwanted conduct related to disability which has the purpose or effect of violating a person's dignity or creating an intimidating, hostile, degrading, humiliating or offensive environment.

  • For example, a consultant shouts at one of the doctors in training under their supervision who has dyspraxia about their coordination and speed at completing tasks, and tells them they should never have become a doctor.