Doctors behind BMA sexism and harassment urged to 'step forward and take responsibility'

Doctors who 'know they have behaved badly' have been urged to step forward and apologise, as LMC leaders backed the findings of the Romney report into sexism and harassment in the BMA.

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

GPs at the 2019 England LMCs conference voted unanimously to demand that the BMA's GP committee should publish a 'formal action plan' with timescales ahead of next year's UK LMCs conference.

The vote comes just a month after a damning independent report by Daphne Romney QC condemned a 'failure of leadership' in the BMA over sex discrimination, sexual harassment, rudeness and bullying.

The investigation was launched by the BMA after GPonline reported earlier this year on senior women within its GP committee speaking out over belittling, crude and sexist comments, being frozen out of meetings or ignored and facing sexual harassment.

BMA sexism

Dr Laura-Jane Evans from Dorset LMC hailed the bravery of colleagues who had 'found the courage to publicly raise concerns' - and said that 'actions, not words' were needed now to eradicate behaviour exposed in the Romney report.

Dr Alex Freeman, from Hampshire and Isle of Wight LMC, told the conference she had given evidence to the Romney review over a six-hour period spread over two days.

She said the behaviour in the BMA was comparable to domestic abuse, in that it was 'insidious', had gone on over a long period and left those affected 'scared to speak out'.

Dr Freeman said she felt it was her duty to 'stick my head above the parapet' - and offered support to any colleagues who felt they had been silenced and were 'looking for justice'.

Poor behaviour

Dr Rachel Ali, from Devon LMC, appealed to doctors who 'know they have behaved badly' to come forward, stand up and take responsibility for their actions so that the BMA and the profession could move on.

In an emotionally charged speech she told colleagues that she had been leading work in the BMA's GP committee to 'try to sort out gender balance issues' when reports emerged of sexism and harassment experienced by women in the BMA.

She said the revelations had left her 'more ashamed of almost anything I have been in my whole career'. Dr Ali said she believed recommendations from the Romney investigation could help rebalance the BMA and help doctors rebuild pride in the association.

GP committee chair Dr Richard Vautrey thanked Dr Ali for her work on gender equality in the GPC, and said: 'The whole of the BMA will now be taking forward recommendations that group has made.'

He added that GPC England had brought forward recommendations from the report with guidance from the gender equality group into a single work stream.

Read the motion in full:

That conference accepts the independent report by Daphne Romney QC on sexism in the BMA and demands the publication of a formal action plan from GPC, with timescales, before the UK conference of LMCs in May 2020.

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