The GMC asks doctors for diversity data to help ensure fair regulation
The General Medical Council (GMC) is asking all doctors on the UK register to provide information about their protected characteristics – including disabilities, sexual orientation and religion or beliefs – as part of its commitment to equality and fairness for the medical profession.
All doctors who joined the register since 2016 have already been asked to provide this information. But the GMC wants to increase the information it has from across the profession to help identify and address issues that some doctors might face.
It is writing to doctors over the coming months asking them to log on to their GMC account and update their records. Providing the information is voluntary, and it will remain confidential and will not be published on the medical register.
Claire Light, Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion at the GMC, said:
‘It’s important we understand where doctors might face inequality and collecting this information, along with other data, provides us with a fuller picture that will help us, and others, identify any issues and address them.
‘We are often asked to provide assurances that specific groups of doctors are being treated fairly, but this is difficult for us to answer with certainty unless we have as much information as possible from across the profession.
‘Providing protected characteristics information is voluntary, and everyone has the right to abstain or to tick the ‘prefer not to say’ box, but we hope doctors will support what we are doing. Their small contributions, collectively, will generate a huge benefit to the profession as a whole.’
"It’s important we understand where doctors might face inequality and collecting this information, along with other data, provides us with a fuller picture that will help us, and others, identify any issues and address them."
Head of Equality, Diversity and Inclusion
The GMC will continue to use the additional information, alongside the data already collected and published, to analyse and report on trends in medical education and practice, and to act on them when necessary. The GMC already uses data provided by doctors to tackle issues and make improvements. This includes:
- Differential attainment
Ongoing research into variations in attainment across different groups of doctors is being used to develop tools which organisations could use to develop interventions to support trainees.
- Support for doctors new to the UK
The GMC runs targeted free workshops for doctors new to UK practice to provide support and guidance to help them understand the ethical issues that they are likely to encounter here.
- Fitness to practise referrals
Data is used in a major project to better understand why some doctors are referred for fitness to practise issues more than others.
The GMC is not the only medical regulator to gather protected characteristics data. Others, such as the Nursing and Midwifery Council, already do so. The GMC has worked closely with several organisations that represent diversity within the medical workforce, and they are supportive of the GMC’s work in this area and of this project.
Information collated by the GMC will remain confidential and will be anonymised in anything published. The GMC treats all data with the utmost sensitivity.