Dear Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service,
Firstly, please would you inform me of the number of times the Medical Practitioner's Tribunal Service has been accused of racism, either as formal complaints or any informal accusations. I would be grateful if you could go back as far as you can in time - within the budget allowed - providing the number of years that were covered and the number of accusations of racism within that time.
Secondly, please release any information you hold concerning an alleged incident this year in which [name removed] of the General Medical Council is said to have used an offensive racist term to describe a man from south Asia.
Thank you for your assisstance.
Dear S Gavaskar
Your information request – F15/7331/EH
Thank you for your email dated 09 September 2015 asking for the number of times the Medical Practitioner's Tribunal Service has been accused of racism.
How we will consider your request
We’re going to look at your request under the Freedom of Information Act 2000 (FOIA). The FOIA gives us 20 working days to respond but we’ll come back to you as soon as we can.
Who to contact
Elizabeth Hiley will be handling your request. If you have any questions you can call her on 0161 923 6314 or email her at [email address].
Mrs Mariam Ifzal
0161 923 6420
General Medical Council
3 Hardman Street
Our reference: F15/7331/EH
Thank you for your request for information under the Freedom of
Information Act 2000 (FOIA).
Complaints about the MPTS
In June 2015 we introduced an electronic system by which we can classify
complaints received about the MPTS. This allows staff to note whether the
complaint contains any reference to racial discrimination. A search of
this system shows that no complaints made about the MPTS since this time
have been recorded as being about racial discrimination.
Prior to this we did not record complaints in such a way as to enable us
to run an electronic search for this information. Therefore I can’t
provide any further information about the number of such complaints
received because it would cost too much to do so. Under the FOIA there’s
an exemption for requests where it would cost the public authority more
than £450 to process – equivalent to two and a half day’s work.
To estimate the cost we can take into account determining, locating,
retrieving and extracting the information requested. The MPTS do have some
limited information recorded about complaints received however this is not
sufficient to enable us to quickly locate each complaint.
In order to provide the information requested we would have to locate and
review 131 complaints identified by the MPTS (the MPTS was established in
June 2012) to see if they contained a reference to racial discrimination.
Based on the amount of correspondence held in these cases, and the limited
amount of information available, we estimate that it could take around an
hour, on average, to locate and review each complaint. Based on an hourly
rate of £25 per hour (which is set by the Freedom of Information (Fees and
Appropriate Limit) Regulations 2004) this would cost £3275. Your request
would therefore cost us in excess of the ‘appropriate limit’ to process.
Under the FOIA, the specific exemption which we believe applies is at
section 12. This states that we are not required comply with a request if
we estimate that the cost of doing so would exceed the appropriate limit.
Allegation against a staff member
We do not believe that it is appropriate to publicly disclose whether or
not a particular staff member has been the subject of any such allegation.
Therefore I can’t confirm whether or not we hold the information you
Section 40(5)(b)(i) of the FOIA applies where the information, if held,
would be the personal data of a third party and where confirming whether
it’s held would breach any principle of the Data Protection Act 1998
(DPA). I believe that to publicly confirm or deny whether we hold the
information would breach the first principle of the DPA, which requires
that the processing of personal data is fair and lawful. I believe the
conditions in Schedule 2 of the DPA, which are about the processing of
personal information, are not met and therefore confirming whether or not
the information is held would be unlawful.
Your right to appeal
I'm sorry I couldn’t provide all the information you requested. You can
appeal against this decision to Julian Graves, Information Access
Manager. If you want to appeal, please set out your reasons and write to
him at [email address]. You can also appeal to the Information
Commissioner, the regulator of the FOIA and DPA – we can provide more
details about this if you need them.
Information Access Officer
General Medical Council
Telephone: 0161 923 6314
Email: [email address]
Working with doctors Working for patients
The General Medical Council helps to protect patients and improve medical
education and practice in the UK by setting standards for students and
doctors. We support them in achieving (and exceeding) those standards, and
take action when they are not met.
Dear Elizabeth Hiley (0161 923 6314),
Thank you for your reply. It is unfortunate that the Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service will only search for examples of racism over the past 4 months. How did you handle freedom of information requests prior to the introduction of the electronic system?
I would be interested to hear from anyone reading this who has experienced racist behaviour by Medical Practitioners Tribunal Service staff. I can be contacted at my website
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