Elected BMA members to receive equality training after sexism investigation

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul has promised that the association will 'learn, act and improve' after women in senior roles spoke out about sexism and harassment.

BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)
BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul (Photo: JH Lancy)

Speaking at the BMA annual representative meeting (ARM) in Belfast on Monday, Dr Nagpaul said he had been 'deeply saddened' by reports of sexism within the BMA - and pledged to tackle 'all forms of discrimination'.

He said that 'from now on every elected member will receive training on bias, equality, diversity and inclusion' - and that online modules would be made available to all BMA members.

The BMA chair was forced to apologise earlier this year and promise an investigation after senior women in the BMA's GP committee spoke out about their experiences of sexism and harassment. GPonline reported in April that top doctors had reported belittling, crude and sexist comments, being frozen out of meetings or ignored and facing sexual harassment.

Sexism investigation

Dr Nagpaul told delegates at the conference: 'I’m committed to the BMA being a learning and inclusive organisation. That’s why I immediately announced a wholly independent investigation which is now underway and is being led by Daphne Romney QC. Where we have fallen short we will learn, we will act, and we will improve.'

The north London GP said that equality was 'a value we place on the NHS but lamentably is not a reality in our workforce'.

He condemned the 'gross injustice' faced by doctors from BAME backgrounds - who are 'more likely to be bullied, less likely to raise concerns, more likely to feel blamed and less likely to feel included'.

Dr Nagpaul told the conference: 'No wonder their ability to perform optimally is affected and with disproportionate referrals for disciplinary processes.

BAME doctors

'BAME doctors and medical students have lower pass rates in UK exams, with no evidence of lacking in ability. They’re less likely to be shortlisted or offered a consultant post, and are paid less with a manifest ethnicity pay gap.

But addressing sexism and racism alone is not enough – we must not be unequal in our commitment to equality and we must tackle discrimination of all forms – be it related to sexual orientation, hidden or visible disability, social class or any other characteristic.'

The BMA chair told the conference that 'none of us should imagine for one moment that this is someone else’s problem', warning that 'conscious and unconscious bias affects each of us, including those of us who’ve been discriminated against'.

He added: 'Ending discrimination is about changing mindsets. That’s why we’re launching our "Equality Matters" programme to embed a culture in which every member can flourish and achieve their best. From now on every elected member will receive training on bias, equality, diversity and inclusion and all BMA members will be able to access online modules.'

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