This post was authored by Emma Runswick
After confidential information we heard at Council was leaked to the BMJ, some members of the Broad Left were asked to comment. Chris Smith [not included by editor error] and I provided the comment included in the article.
This leak, whilst not our choice, resolves to some degree the problem in telling you about our activities on Council. You can be assured that we have asked for increased transparency with members, and we have sought information where it was lacking. We have written to the Chief Officers and Board of Directors on multiple occasions. I have been arguing for repayment of spousal expenses, and we have asked for further investigation with the aim of uncovering and tackling any other problems.
I have submitted a motion to the Annual Representative Meeting:
“This meeting agrees that senior BMA representatives should not claim expenses beyond what policy allows, including to pay for spousal or partner expenses, and instructs BMA Council and the Board of Directors to:
i) recover any such expenditure and any tax burden borne by the BMA where appropriate
ii) ensure all expenses policies exclude payments for spousal or partner expenses”
We have a track record of supporting good use of members’ money and transparency with it. Last year, I proposed a motion at the Annual Representative Meeting as detailed below. In the Treasurer’s response, he implied that I had been the only person to request to scrutinise expenses for 2 years. More recently, I have requested to view expenses and honoraria under the current system and have been unable to due to staff sickness. In my opinion the situation would be greatly improved by more, and not less, openness with members and representatives at all levels.
“ARM 2018 Motion by NORTH WEST REGIONAL COUNCIL: That this meeting instructs that:-
i) votes of committee and council members should be recorded and published for members to enable informed voting in elections;
ii) council members who wish to publish their own voting records and arguments should be free to do so;
iii) there should be a dedicated contact point for those wishing to scrutinise expenses and honoraria.”
At the 2017 ARM in Bournemouth, I supported parts i) and ii) of the composite motion below, which was proposed by Dino Motti. I argued that the expenses should be put in context (eg number of journeys and distance) for members. Dino faced a significant backlash for proposing the motion, including abuse from one of the previous senior officers.
We have ongoing concerns about governance but little information and evidence. We have submitted other motions to ARM on these issues and will continue to fight your corner at Council.