The doctors that had had training outside the UK, accounted for 23 of 38 sexual misconduct incidents proven in the past three years, according to figures obtained by The Mail on Sunday. The allegations ranged from indecent behaviour, sexual assault and rape.
The alarming revelations come in the wake of fresh targets to reduce the numbers of black and ethnic minority staff facing disciplinary hearings. Notably, almost two-thirds of minorities represented at the NHS have had training abroad.
Some 95 000 doctors in Britain come from black and minority ethnic backgrounds (BME). They are more than twice as likely to be referred to the General Medical Council (GMC) as their white colleagues. A similar pattern with minority nurses have been noted.
NHS chief human resources officer Prerana Issar, responded to the news by blaming a faulty “formal disciplinary process”. Issar has recently joined the NHS from the United Nations.
“It is not acceptable that if you come from some backgrounds, you are more likely to enter the formal disciplinary process, stay in it longer and have more career-limiting outcomes. We must change this and quickly,” Issar said.
In a new directive, the NHS trusts are instructed to reach “aspirational goals” to reduce the likelihood of minorities having to face disciplinary action. The goal is to bring down rates so they are more in line with those of white staff.
But blaming the process of disciplinary referrals, pose a real threat to patients because perpetrators may thus escape investigation.
J Meirion Thomas, a retired consultant surgeon who worked in the NHS for 30 years, however warned against the new directive. “Complaints of sexual misconduct, and other matters against doctors, should be assessed irrespective of ethnicity. Applying any other criteria risks that some complaints may not be properly investigated.”
An NHS spokesman commented on the latest figures: “Where allegations are made it is right that they are thoroughly investigated and any appropriate action taken, regardless of someone’s ethnicity or where they trained. But it is also right that all NHS staff feel they will be treated fairly and not face discrimination, which is what this guidance sets out to achieve.”
But a recent GMC report found “no evidence of [racial] bias” in its disciplinary procedures. Instead, it suggested not enough was being done to support BME doctors, since some felt “isolated” or as if they were being “treated as outsiders”.
The figures on sexual misconduct were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act following such high-profile cases as “Czech-trained” doctor, Anush Babu. Babu, a Muslim immigrant spent years secretly filming female patients.