Equality and eggshells
 

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Equality and eggshells

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Equality and eggshells

 

Equality and eggshells

John Chope, GDC Councillor and GDP, notes the concerns stirred up by the GDC’s equality monitoring questionnaire.

Haven’t you got anything better to do with public money? We’re living in a Nazi state; a Stalinist state; a nanny state; a forest of political correctness. What will you do if you find you don’t have enough gays in dentistry?

These are some of the responses to the recent GDC Equality Monitoring form sent to all registrants during the last two years.

The GDC is a public authority, bound by the Race Relations (Amendment) Act 2000 with a duty to eliminate unlawful racial discrimination and promote equality of opportunity and good relations between persons of different racial groups.

In December 2006 the Disability Discrimination Act will also impose a duty on the Council to promote equality of opportunity for the disabled and by 2007 the Commission for Equality and Human Rights (CEHR) will assume responsibility for ensuring good practice in equality and human rights generally.

This, then, is the background to the contentious questionnaire. But why would racial, religious, gender or disability statistics about its registrants help the GDC to do its job?

In 2000 a limited study by the Policy Studies Institute for the GMC found that whilst at the Preliminary Proceedings stage 27% of complaints were about overseas doctors, the proportion rose to 54% by the time the Conduct Committee stage was reached. These statistics prompted the GMC to look into the possible reasons for the imbalance to see if and how the playing field could be levelled for all registrants.
Might GDC statistics demonstrate similar inequities? If so could it be something that the GDC was doing to disadvantage one group of registrants rather than another? For example, could the methods adopted by the GDC for communicating with its registrants need examination?

The monitoring data is anonymised and only used in a general statistical form, although the Council does record responders to avoid sending out reminders and new questionnaires unnecessarily.

In view of the personal nature of the questions I can understand why registrants could be apprehensive or suspicious of the GDC’s motives. This makes the 66% response rate all the more remarkable, especially as many organisations would regard 30% as the norm.

The GDC questionnaire marks the first determined steps towards its equality goals: not an easy road but a path of eggshells.

 Posted on : Fri 25th - Nov - 2005

 

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