BMA could face judicial review over handling of regional GP committee election

A GP who stood for election to the BMA's GP committee has lodged a formal complaint with the association over its handling of the election process and could seek a judicial review, after hitting out at a 'total lack of transparency'.

BMA House (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)

Last week, the BMA confirmed that long-standing GP committee member Dr Peter Holden had been re-elected to represent Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire after an election that was re-run last month after a delay of more than six months.

However Dr Shan Hussain, a candidate who also stood for election as the region's GP committee representative, has lodged a formal complaint over the electoral process and is seeking a formal judicial review. The Nottinghamshire GP - who said the election result made an 'absolute mockery of the lengthy investigation and electoral process' - has since been invited by the BMA to attend a 'mediated conversation' over his complaint.

The election was initially held in March this year, but was suspended on 5 March after claims that Dr Holden had broken canvassing rules. An investigation by the BMA's independent scrutineer for elections confirmed a breach of an election process had occurred, but concluded that no individual should be referred to a BMA resolution panel.

GPC regional election

In June, Dr Holden voluntarily withdrew from the election, leaving two nominees - Dr Shan Hussain and Dr Kalindi K Tumurugoti - in the running. However, Dr Holden was allowed to stand again when the election was run in October after a pause of more than six months, following independent legal advice given to the BMA.

Commenting on his re-election, Dr Holden said: 'I was fully investigated under a formal BMA procedure by an external firm of lawyers and I was exonerated.'

However, Dr Hussain has lodged a formal complaint into the electoral process and is seeking a judicial review. In his complaint, Dr Hussain seeks answers to questions around how the BMA conducted the election, the reason for the long delay, and the subsequent investigation and re-opening of the process.

He has asked the BMA to explain:

  • why his initial report to the BMA about a breach of canvassing rules on 4 March didn’t trigger an investigation,
  • why he had to wait over two months for information about when the election would restart,
  • why the incumbent was allowed to stand for another seat within the GPC in June,
  • why some GPs in the area who attempted to vote were unable to do so,
  • why the election was re-opened for just two weeks, instead of four weeks as previously,
  • why the BMA asked him to share emails from his personal account about the election.

Dr Hussain is also seeking ‘full disclosure’ of the legal advice the BMA received around the election, which led it to reopening the election at the nomination stage.

Voting access

In his letter to the BMA, Dr Hussain said: ‘The nature of my complaint surrounds the entirety of the electoral process and the total lack of transparency around events between 8 June and 23 September 2021.

‘I seek explanations into the decision-making processes, reasons why Dr Tumurugoti and I were not kept informed, recognition of the disrespect shown towards us both, and apologies from all relevant parties, including Dr Holden.

‘Given my recent communications with the BMA, I do not have high hopes for a simple resolution of this matter. Whilst I am a BMA member for now, I expect full responses to my questions. But please be advised that I have already appointed a barrister and will almost certainly seek a formal judicial review.’

The election process has been criticised by a number of GPs on Twitter, who have called on the BMA to provide further information. A different candidate in the same region withdrew from the election in March over concerns that rural GPs had been unable to access the voting system.

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