BMA backs code of conduct with 'gagging clause' for council members

The BMA has approved a code of conduct for council members with a 'gagging clause' banning them from criticising the union.

BMA: council members 'gagged' by code of conduct
BMA: council members 'gagged' by code of conduct

The BMA has refused to publish the code of conduct which came into force immediately and said it has been under consideration for some time.

There was no code of conduct for council members before and a spokesman confirmed it is a 'living document' which can be amended.

But a council member, who wished to remain anonymous, told GP that the code included a clause which stated that as council members are directors of the BMA, which is both a trade union and a company, they are not allowed to criticise it.

The council member said: ‘It is like a gagging clause. It will put people off becoming a council member.’

Another council member, who also wished to remain anonymous, confirmed that the code contained clauses that ban members from speaking out against the BMA.

‘It is still a little bit cloudy. For example, as a council member are you allowed to say something at the ARM or put a motion forward which goes against council? The code of conduct doesn’t answer that. It is still a little bit cloudy and nobody has given any real answers.’

A BMA spokesman said the code was part of the union’s routine review and maintenance of governance arrangements. He said: ‘Its introduction will help ensure the association abides by trade union and company law.’

The code was approved at last week’s UK BMA Council meeting. Proposals for a pledge card to challenge NHS privatisation were left in doubt over legal fears set out at the meeting, and council members decided not to proceed with strike action for hospital doctors in Scotland.

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