GPs report concerns over BMA GP committee elections

Elections for nearly one in four regional BMA GP committee seats are underway, but GPs have voiced concerns over access to voting and adherence to election rules.

Election underway (Photo: Karanik Yimpat/EyeEm/Getty Images)
Election underway (Photo: Karanik Yimpat/EyeEm/Getty Images)

One candidate has withdrawn from the election over concerns that GPs in his area had been unable to access the voting system.

GPs have also raised concerns over claims that a candidate sent out an unsolicited message canvassing support, in a potential breach of election guidelines.

A total of 10 regional positions will be decided this month, with nine coming up as part of the standard election schedule and one by-election. All GPs in each region - whether BMA members or not - are eligible to vote, and have until 12pm on 19 March to vote in the nine regions up for election, and until 12pm on 12 March for the by-election.

BMA GP committee

The BMA has said that it has used social media, newsletter updates and communication with relevant LMCs to promote the election, ensuring that GPs are aware if their regional seat is being contested.

However, Dr Steve Kell, a Worksop, Nottinghamshire GP withdrew from the election last week due to concerns around access to the voting system.

He announced the decision on Twitter, saying: ‘Thanks for [the] support I’ve received but I’ve decided to withdraw from this election. Unfortunately local GPs [are] unable to access the voting system and despite efforts with BMA, I have little choice a week into the election.’

Another GP reported that he had experienced issues with the voting system, but they were ‘sorted within a few minutes’ of contacting the BMA.

Election process

In a further development that raises new questions over the election, an LMC has said it is investigating and taking 'very seriously' claims that a candidate sent out an unsolicited message canvassing support. BMA guidelines say candidates 'must not use BMA resources to canvass voters and should not send them unsolicited communications'.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The BMA is aware that a nomination has been withdrawn and the elections team have been in contact with the individual directly to reassure them that everything is being done to encourage those who are eligible to vote to do so.

‘Any specific issues or questions should be directed to elections@bma.org.uk and the team will respond as quickly as possible.’

GPs standing in regional elections are up for a three-year term, with results to be announced on the BMA elections portal from Friday 19 March. There are two years to run on the seat open through a by-election.

How to vote

The GPC has 86 members, 43 of whom are directly elected regional representatives. The remainder are either elected at the annual representative meeting (ARM), appointed from subcommittees or groups, or are ex-officio members.

All GPs who are based in the relevant regions are eligible to participate and must log into the BMA online elections system to cast their vote electronically. Those who are not BMA members need to have registered for a temporary web account to vote. More information about the election is available on the BMA website here.

Regions up for election:

  • Norfolk/Suffolk/Great Yarmouth & Waveney
  • Enfield & Haringey/Camden & Islington/ Barnet/Kensington & Chelsea/Westminster
  • Merton, Sutton & Wandsworth/Kingston & Richmond
  • Salford & Trafford/Manchester/Stockport
  • Forth Valley/Fife /Lothian/Tayside
  • East Sussex/West Sussex
  • Derbys/ Nottinghamshire
  • Gwent/Bro Taf/Morgannwg
  • Herefordshire/Worcs/Warks/Coventry
  • Barnsley/Doncaster/Rotherham/Sheffield(by-election, two-session term)

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