Less than 24 hours after the BMA published findings from an independent investigation that found evidence of sexual harassment, bullying and discrimination within the association, the regulator has intervened to warn that doctors responsible 'should answer for that behaviour'.
The GMC said behaviour identified in the investigation - launched by the BMA earlier this year after GPonline reported on senior women GPs who lifted the lid on a 'sexist culture' within the association - was 'completely unacceptable'.
A GMC spokesperson said: ‘It is completely unacceptable that female doctors and members of staff working at the BMA have suffered sexism, sexual and other forms of harassment, according to this report.
‘We have asked the BMA to provide us with details of any concerns that we need to be aware of, as the regulator for doctors.
‘Our guidance, 'Good medical practice', is very clear that doctors must treat colleagues as well as patients fairly and without discrimination. Any doctor who fails to meet that standard should answer for that behaviour.’
Daphne Romney QC, who led the investigation, heard evidence from 82 people as part of the process including BMA members and staff.
Her report makes clear that evidence heard as part of the inquiry includes the names of some doctors allegedly responsible for unacceptable behaviour, and that Ms Romney supported some people to progress complaints.
QC to support complainants
It says that 'in some cases I did not have the names of the alleged perpetrators' - but that in cases where there were 'matters that I believe should be pursued, I have encouraged those affected to pursue that complaint, and I have offered them support in doing so'.
The Romney report hit out at a 'failure of leadership' in the BMA, warning that senior officials 'must all take responsibility' for not doing more earlier to stop unacceptable behaviour.
It made clear that problems with unacceptable behaviour are not limited to the BMA's GP committee, but 'arise across the BMA' - and go beyond sexual discrimination and harassment into bullying and other poor behaviour.
Senior female GPs who blew the whistle on the culture within the BMA have spoken of feeling 'vindicated' by the findings of the Romney review after facing severe pressure having taken the decision to speak out.
Following publication of the report BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul said he had been appalled to hear reports of sexist behaviour within the BMA.
He said: 'The report makes clear that women have at times, and for far too long, experienced discrimination and poor behaviour in our association and it identifies a number of cultural issues that must be addressed.
'I have been very clear that sexism and sexual harassment have no place in the BMA and, on behalf of the association, I offer my heartfelt and unreserved apologies to all of those who have been affected by these behaviours.'
The BMA has been approached for further comment.