Only 55% of Romney review recommendations on BMA sexism fully implemented

Only just over half of recommendations from the 2019 Romney review into sexism in the BMA have been fully implemented, according to a report obtained by GPonline.

BMA House entrance
BMA House (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)

A BMA report dated June 2022 called 'Improving culture and inclusion at the BMA' outlines progress on implementing recommendations from the Romney review.

The report, understood to have been circulated only within the BMA, says that while the association has made progress, there remains a 'long way to go' - a sentiment echoed by chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul in his keynote speech at the BMA annual representative meeting (ARM) on 27 June.

The Romney review was published in October 2019 - six months after senior women within the BMA's GP committee spoke exclusively to GPonline about their experiences of harassment, bullying and sexism.

BMA sexism

The review by QC Daphne Romney condemned a 'failure of leadership' within the BMA and reiterated problems GPs had spoken out about - setting out 31 recommendations for reform.

The BMA update on implementation says that analysis by its internal auditors Crowe found that as of March 2022, 55% of the measures recommended by the Romney review had been fully implemented, although most of these had been implemented too recently for any assessment of evidence of behavioural change as a result.

A total of 18% had been 'partially implemented', 18% were 'outstanding' and 9% still had 'deliverables to be identified', the Crowe analysis found.

The report highlighted measures such as changes to rules around use of BMA listservers, and standardised committee standing orders - including term limits for chairs - intended to improve the culture within the organisation.

Cultural reform

It makes clear that at least one key recommendation specifically targeted at the BMA GP committee has not been implemented - the adoption of 'multi-member constituencies for regional seats to allow new people to stand for election alongside the existing holders of those seats'.

The report says the GP committee rejected reforms proposed in September 2020 because they needed 'further development' - and is now considering 'more fundamental reforms' as well as changes to its structures proposed in a report by QC Ijeoma Omambala, commissioned and published earlier this year by the GP Defence Fund.

The Omambala report itself highlighted concerns that GP representation in the BMA was 'dysfunctional', run by an old boys' network and disconnected from LMCs and grassroots doctors.

GPC member and former BMA council member Dr Fay Wilson told GPonline that as an update on general progress on diversity generally, the 'Improving culture and inclusion' report was 'encouraging'.

Representation

The report highlights that between March 2019 and March 2022 the percentage of female members on BMA committees had risen from 36.7% to 41.8%.

Over the same period, the percentage of committee chairs and deputy chairs who are female rose from 29.3% to 36.9%, and the proportion of committee members who identify as from minority ethnic backgrounds rose from 27.7% 31.9%.

But Dr Wilson said that the report did not provide the level of detail required on implementation of Romney recommendations. She said: 'I expected a list of Romney recommendations with a progress or status report against each.'

The long-standing GPC member said the lack of detail provided in the report meant it was difficult to evaluate progress, or to understand where the BMA was falling short. Overall, it was a 'missed opportunity' for women who have 'been waiting for change in the BMA for over 30 years and seen it overtaken by almost every other medical institution', she said.

The report also mentioned changes to listserver rules in December 2021 following concerns about 'members repeatedly posting comments that may not be in line with the BMA behaviour principles or Code of Conduct', with some continuing this behaviour after advice and feedback. It does not make clear whether doctors were sanctioned for this behaviour.

GPonline has approached the BMA for comment.

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