The Muslim Doctors Association welcomes the independent review by the GMC.
The Muslim Doctors Association was set up in 2004, as a nonprofit community organisation. We sit on the GMC BME forum and have been actively involved in supporting the Justice for Dr.Hadiza Bawa-Garba Campaign. We have submitted our recommendations to the review and we opted to write to you to highlight areas that we think are paramount to concluding this review fairly and accurately.
In the wake of the Dr Bawa-Garba case we have conducted preliminary research that indicated that a significant proportion of those surveyed believe that racial, religious, and gender discrimination against Dr Bawa-Garba by both the public and the GMC contributed to the decision of her being struck off the register. Our preliminary data with regards to sentiments of the general public driving pressure on the GMC in the case of Dr Bawa-Garba showed that: 43% of those surveyed believed racial discrimination was a driving factor for the public to apply pressure on the GMC, 26% believed religious discrimination was a factor, 8% gender discrimination, and 37% all three factors. As with regards to the factors influencing the GMC panel making the decision in the case of Dr Bawa-Garba: 43% of those surveyed believed racial discrimination was a factor that influenced the GMC panel, 27% believed religious discrimination was a factor, 9% gender discrimination, and 38% all three factors.
Our data also showed doctors from minority religious groups, and particularly Muslim doctors, are more likely than other groups to experience religious discrimination in the workplace and in training
We are currently conducting further research to explore this in more depth. The presence of multiple confounding factors makes research like this complex. Looking into religious discrimination in GMC investigations, however, has proven more difficult due to the absence of data gathering by the GMC on religious background for doctors.
The GMC also assigns to itself the duty of promoting and maintaining public confidence in the medical profession which we believe is controversial as this is not a role that can easily be objectively gauged or demonstrated. More so, decisions taken by the GMC to promote public confidence may pose a conflict of interest where the GMC may take such decisions to promote public confidence in itself rather than in the profession sometimes resulting in loss of confidence in the profession, again as in the example of Dr. Bawa-Garba, there’s no objective evidence that the decision taken has promoted public confidence in the profession but rather may have had the opposite effect whilst at the same time promoting the confidence of a particular and narrow sector of the public in the GMC.
In light of the above we recommend:
- The GMC revise its role in promoting and maintaining public confidence in the medical profession and redefine that role using a more nuanced approach to ensure there’s no conflict of interest.
- The GMC be aware of wider political and other non-medical agendas that sometimes drive public sentiment and perception and the impact this has on influencing the GMC’s decisions.
- The GMC carries out religious data monitoring in the same manner that it does ethnic background monitoring.
- The GMC carry out research into possible religious discrimination within the organisation against doctors referred for investigation and doctors undergoing investigation.
With regards to processes leading up to criminal investigations and more specifically regarding barriers and impediments BME doctors face in reporting serious incidents and raising concerns we recommend:
- The need for more data on experiences of front line doctors with protected characteristics who have been involved with serious clinical incidents
- Further studies to explore the prevalence and impact of religious discrimination on NHS staff
- Training and staff awareness on cultural and faith-sensitive issues
- Safeguards for staff who want to raise concerns
We hope that the outcome of the review would provide relevant and practical guidance to ensure independent and fair investigations following fatal incidents. Additionally, we hope, it will promote a change towards a non- blame culture and removing impediments that disproportionately impact staff with protected characteristics.
The Muslim Doctors Association was set up in 2004, as a non-profit community organisation. We sit on the GMC BME forum and have been actively involved in supporting the Justice for Dr.Hadiza Bawa-Garba Campaign. We have submitted our recommendations to the review and we opted to write to you to highlight areas that we think are paramount to concluding this review fairly and accurately.
Dr Batool Abdulkareem
Equality and Diversity Lead
Muslim Doctors Association
Dr Hina Shahid
Muslim Doctors Association