Training assessments may discriminate against disabled medics

Procedures under consultation for assessing whether training doctors are fit to practice could discriminate against disabled medical students, delegates at the Higher Education Occupational Practitioners Society autumn meeting heard.

The General Medical Council’s (GMC) ‘Fitness to Practice’ for medical students consultation should have more occupational health input to avoid discrimination, said Dr Susan Robson, OH physician at the University of Manchester.

Dr Robson said a doctor with certain disabilities would not be able to achieve all the competencies required and would be regarded as not ‘fit for practice’. This is despite precedents set by doctors already in practice who have overcome these disabilities and are good practitioners.

Dr Dennis Todd of Queens University, Belfast, outlined the competencies that medical students must achieve to be deemed fit to practice, which included obvious clinical activities such as examining a patient, recording blood pressure, and a carrying out venepuncture. However, there was nothing on the mental and physical ‘fitness’ of the individual about to undertake medical practice.

There is no legal precedent of a doctor being turned down due to their disability.

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