On 19th September the BMA UK Council convened for the second time of the 2018/19 session, with all Broad Left members in attendance. After welcomes and congratulations for newly elected members the session began earlier than usual in anticipation of the packed agenda. The first item was a presentation from the chair, Chaand Nagpaul, about the results of the BMA’s recently published all member survey. The survey was wide ranging, with topics including how meeting targets rather than patient care often drives clinical decisions, how doctors are increasingly afraid of making mistakes and that doctors want better IT systems, better levels of staffing and better pay. Emma Runswick spoke about how rota gaps and unsafe staffing levels are a composite issue: they ranked top of things affecting a doctor’s daily life (above T&C issues and pay) but these gaps do not exist in isolation or as an anomaly: they are strongly linked to poor terms and conditions, declining pay and, for non-EU nationals, issues with securing the necessary visas.
Council then discussed the issues of doctors’ pay and the BMAs response to this year’s DDRB recommendations and the wider implications of how the offer that they presented to the government should affect our relationship. This was held in a private, confidential session. Broad Left members Vicky Theakston, Emma Runswick, Yannis Gourtsoyannis and Chris Smith all contributed to the discussion in accordance with the views that we had previously expressed on Doctors Broadsheet. After considering the debate, we maintain our view that the offer was unacceptable and that the BMA needs to respond with a well resourced, comprehensive and continued comma campaign to inform members of the real-terms pay cut that has been forced on doctors over the past decade. This should be followed by an indicative ballot to gauge how members want to respond to the repeated and sustained degradation of pay across all grades and specialties. Significant time was devoted to these topics; the morning session was extended so that a range of views could be heard and the afternoon session began with continued discussion around non the DDRB and doctors’ pay.
Next, an update was given by the Trade Disputes Preparedness Group where it was discussed how they should present to Council in the event of escalating industrial action. Also discussed was the group’s responsibility to assess IA’s impact on other Branches of Practice and union as a whole, and the particular remit of each dispute committee in the event of future industrial action, including responsibility for communications planning and member mobilisation.
A shortened review of support for members was delivered to Council as the session was already overrunning, followed by an update on the independent review of the BMA’s Code of Conduct and, specifically, the resolution process therein. Council was informed of the 15 candidates for the 2 vacant South East seats and confirmed the appointment of members of the Occupational Medicine Committee.
Chris Smith and Emma Runswick co-signed a motion brought to Council stating concern with the appointment of Lord Prior to the Chair of NHS England on the grounds that there is a significant conflict of interest and that he does not show commitment to NHS values or the NHS constitution. The motion was carried nem con after discussion and a vote.
In preparation for a discussion of the BMA’s campaigning priorities to be held in November’s council session, the Director of Policy posted information on some workshops for Council members ahead of the November meeting on what made for good campaigning and how this could help council to structure the policy priorities to have maximum external impact.
After the conclusion of Council, 5 Broad Left members attended a scheduled presentation from the BMA’s legal team to receive updates and ask questions about important cases.