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GMC commissions new research into fitness to practise referrals

The General Medical Council (GMC) has today announced that Roger Kline and Dr Doyin Atewologun will lead a major project to better understand why some doctors are referred to the regulator for fitness to practise issues more than others.

Roger is a Research Fellow at Middlesex University Business School. Doyin is a faculty member at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Business and Management and is an expert in work psychology, diversity and leadership.

Roger and Doyin will head up a programme of work of research, analysis and advice. Their research will enable the GMC to work with clinical leaders to properly develop supportive and open workplaces, where doctors’ interactions with the GMC, and their processes, are appropriate and fair.

Although previous studies have found that the GMC’s processes do not introduce disproportionality in investigations into doctors, research has not yet established deeper reasons behind why certain groups of doctors are referred to the GMC by their employers more often.

The work will cover all four countries in the UK and cover a broad range of types of employers.

"We are looking forward to undertaking this important project which we hope will enable a clear understanding of the causes of disproportionate representation of some groups of doctors in GMC referrals."

Roger Kline

Research Fellow, Middlesex University Business School.

Dr Doyin Atewologun, faculty member at Queen Mary University of London’s School of Business and Management, said:

‘We hope, in particular, that this project will help identify best practices from the available evidence and lead to positive changes.’

Charlie Massey, Chief Executive of the GMC, said:

‘Audits have consistently found that our fitness to practise processes and guidance are fair and consistent and do not introduce bias. 

‘But we do know that there is an overrepresentation of BME doctors that have been complained about and we want to know more about what is driving this, as well as whether there is an under representation of other doctors. That is why we are intensifying our efforts to understand better this issue through more detailed research, analysis and advice.

‘This research will allow us to work more closely with clinical leaders to properly develop supportive and open workplaces, where doctors’ interactions with the GMC, and with processes owned by the GMC, are appropriate and fair.’

The research has also been welcomed by NHS Employers.

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said:

‘We welcome this work commissioned by the GMC.

‘It’s important we can better understand why there are a disproportionate number of black, Asian and minority ethnic doctors who are subject to fitness to practise referrals.

‘Whilst the work will look at what improvements can be made by the regulator, there will be important learning that can be applied by employers as well.’

Roger, who was formerly NHS England’s Joint Director, Workforce Race Equality Standard Research and Engagement, has previously published a wide range work on workforce diversity in healthcare. Doyin was academic adviser to the Parker Review on the ethnic diversity of UK Boards and was recently co-published a review of unconscious bias training for the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC).

More information about the work and professionals involved will be confirmed shortly.

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