World renowned doctor wins landmark race discrimination claim against the General Medical Council


Re: Karim v GMC ET 3332128/2018

This case concerns a Consultant Urologist who brought a race discrimination claim against the GMC. The Claimant is mixed race, Black African/European and is a Muslim.

Mr Karim worked as a consultant urological surgeon at Heatherwood and Wexham Park Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, later the Frimley Health NHS Foundation Trust (“the Trust”).  After a number of investigations commissioned by the Trust into the urological department, the Trust suspended the Claimant. The Trust also referred the Claimant to the GMC at the end of 2014. On 3 March 2015, the Interim Orders Panel of the MPTS (Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service) imposed restrictions on the Claimant’s practice, pending the outcome of the GMC’s investigation. In August 2015 the restrictions on the Claimant’s practice were lifted. His case was then referred to a full hearing before the Medical Practitioners Tribunal but not until three years later. The Fitness to Practice (FTP) hearing took place in April 2018 and the Claimant was found not to have committed any act of misconduct.

Held: The Employment Tribunal concluded that the Claimant was less favourably treated than a white doctor in that the GMC continued an investigation into the Claimant when the same allegation was made against a white doctor whom they decided not to investigate. The GMC also looked for material to support allegations against the Claimant, rather than fairly assessing matters presented. Further, the GMC caused delay in the investigation of the Claimant and in the referral of the Claimant’s case for a FTP hearing.

The Employment Tribunal took into account all the evidence including the statistical evidence about race which showed a higher proportion of adverse outcomes for BME doctors. The Employment Tribunal also expressed the fact that it was concerned about the level of complacency shown by the GMC about the possibility of the operation of discrimination in the referral made by the Trust to the GMC. The Tribunal formed this view after considering the answers given to the questions around the Respondent’s equal opportunity policy,  training around equality and diversity issues and the failure of all the witnesses to express how if at all the awareness of the overrepresentation of BME doctors in complaints to the GMC was considered in the investigation process at any stage, or whether discrimination may have been a factor consciously or unconsciously in the allegations faced by the Claimant. The Tribunal found that the difference in treatment of the Claimant in comparison with a white doctor and the significant delay in the investigation of him were on the grounds of his race.

Karon Monaghan QC was involved in this case.

Please find judgment here.