The first meeting of the newly elected Council took place on the 18th July. It allocated new ARM policy to different parts of the BMA for action and had opportunity to scrutinise the activity of the BMA over the past 2 months. We did so, and Emma has a further meeting scheduled with the Chief Executive of the BMA to discuss the activity report further, and to deal with unanswered questions.
We also discussed the Code of Conduct, and highlighted some problems with the current process alongside potential solutions.
We asked how the review of Member Support services would capture those turned away by First Point of Contact and those who are represented by local representatives.
We discussed Council roles, elected positions, and the way we work together as an executive. Few decisions were made, work on improving the involvement of Council is ongoing, and leaves a lot to be desired.
We voted to continue the regionalisation and localisation programme to increase financial and staff resources and activity closer to where members live and work.
Read a fuller update below, and feel free to email us using the format first initial, surname, @mybma.org.uk. For example: erunswick[at]mybma.org.uk
All Broad Left members attended their first Council meeting on 18th July.
There is now a new Council of 64 members, 24 women and 40 men, with representatives from across the four nations and all grades.
We thought in advance that there wasn’t much on the Agenda, and that time would be taken by new members such as ourselves learning the ropes of the meeting. The two big items on the agenda for this ‘executive committee’ of the BMA seemed to be motion allocation – ensuring all ARM motions are given to the right bit of the BMA to action – and review of the BMA Activity Report for the last two months. We were well prepared on both.
Code of Conduct
In a discussion about the Code of Conduct, it was noted that our process has some serious procedural issues that need resolution: the lack of time limit on suspensions, and the possibility of indefinite suspension from elected post; the lack of objectivity that might be created by the small number of trained resolution panel members and their positions; the proportionality of sanctions; and the potential for vexatious complaints and counter-complaints. Emma asked how many panel members were trained (25) and how many held national committee or Council positions (all of them) and noted that in some other unions only non-position holders or retired members who are removed from the issues sit on the panels. We were told that any member can volunteer and have training to sit on the panels, which is good. Members are also expected to use professional judgement to refrain from volunteering to deal with cases where they know the individuals.
Council also noted that the processes would be an external review of the processes and a report would be submitted to a future meeting of council.
Chair’s Report and Questions
The Chair’s Report then took place, with questions and prepared speeches from Council members to follow up. A question was asked about long-term DDRB strategy
This issue, and the Chair’s report, took us to 11.50. There is a clear need to improve the efficiency of Council.
Member Support Services Review
BMA is commissioning an independent review of all our individual member support services, including first point of contact, Employment Advisors, Industrial Relations Officers and legal support. This will include a review of the ‘big cases’, and will recommend actions for improvement. The Steering Group for the review is chaired by Joh Chisholm. We asked whether and how the review will capture those turned away from first point of contact, or who have their problems dealt with by local student or LNC representatives. Questions were also asked about local and branch of practice input into the review.
Deputy Chair of Council
The Deputy Chair role was discussed, with general agreement that it does not have a clear enough profile of work or allow enough time for the role to be done effectively. Following an hour’s consideration of how to change this, it was agreed that an election should be held for the position as-is based on the timetable agreed at March council. A more comprehensive review of the role and any options for change, including increasing the time commitment or increasing the number of deputy chairs, would be developed for consideration in the next session. We will vote for an increase in time or number to enable the Deputy to deputise for the Chair and take on some workstreams.
Strategic Reference Group
The Strategic Reference Group appears to be a coordination group for the Chief Officers, the Branch of Practice Chairs, and the Chairs of the Devolved Nations. In the last session of Council, two Council members were elected to this group to increase Council participation. We agreed to increase this to three and to circulate terms of reference.
We believe it is unclear whether this group is becoming an executive group and unclear what decisions it is making.
Localisation and Regionalisation
We agreed to cost and progress the programme of developing our local and regional structures. This includes having consistent constitutions, fixed terms of office, increased financial and staff time resources, and access to methods of communicating with members on a local and regional basis.
2018 ARM Resolutions
The ARM policies were allocated to various committees, boards and departments for action. Progress will be reported back to Council and published on the website as well as reported to ARM 2019. Several members pointed out where policies had been allocated incorrectly or needed consideration by other parts of the BMA. Proposals on campaigning priorities would be brought to the September council meeting.
BMA Activities Report
Council were sent a 50-page activities report in advance of the meeting, covering much of the work the BMA had done over the last few months. We had many questions about this work, and asked for any papers that were referenced, including on the challenges of the DDRB report. We asked about our activity on the gender pay gap in medicine and in the BMA. We have asked for details on the nature of our relationships with commercial partners, for updates on key legal cases, and for the Board of Directors’ ‘risk register’.
Vacant Council Seats
Council agreed to hold a by election for the two vacancies in the ‘South east coast’ geographical zone.
Working Together Better
It is clear from the reports of the Working Together Better Task and Finish Group that Council has functioned poorly in recent years. An external facilitator and this task and finish group have been making recommendations for improvements to the way Council works. It still took a lot of time to discuss, in our opinion, very little, often making no decisions or confirming the status quo whilst important discussions went untouched – most notably now the incoming DDRB report and our strategy for dealing with it. We agreed to continue to have this group, electing 3 members of Council, at least one of which will be a new member of Council. The Broad Left will stand somebody for the Working Together Better Task and Finish group which is designed to make Council more involved and more effective in BMA work.