LMCs demand annual reporting on sexism in BMA and action on gender pay gap

LMCs have demanded an annual report from the BMA's GP committee on sexism by members and staff - and welcomed a 2019 investigation that found a 'failure of leadership' in the BMA over sex discrimination, sexual harassment, rudeness and bullying.

LMC representatives at the 2021 UK LMCs conference voted to welcome both the Romney review into sexism in the BMA, and the Dacre review on the gender pay gap.

The conference called on the BMA's GP committee to deliver annual updates to LMCs on both cases of sexism and the gender pay gap - and called on the GP committee to negotiate changes to all GP contracts to encourage part-time and flexible working in partnerships.

The call for annual sexism reporting comes just over two years after GPonline reported on sexism and harassment experienced by senior GPs within the BMA - triggering an apology from the association and the independent review by QC Daphne Romney.

BMA sexism

The 2019 review confirmed experiences reported by GPs who spoke to GPonline - and its recommendations were accepted in full by the BMA.

Leicestershire and Rutland LMC's Dr Fahreen Dhanji urged the GP committee to negotiate 'changes that encourage flexible working in partnerships' - and said these changes could support work to reduce the gender pay gap in general practice.

The 2020 Dacre report found a 33% gender pay gap in general practice and called for reforms to pay and work culture to address it.

Dr Dhanji said annual reporting on sexism and the gender pay gap, and actions to tackle both issues, were a key part of ensuring that GP leaders were 'held to account' and that landmark reports were not simply 'good reading' that failed to result in concrete action.

GP partnerships

Dr Sarah Westerbeek told the conference that with numbers of GP partners in rapid decline, the partnership model of general practice was at risk. She added that under-representation of women in partnership roles was a key factor driving the gender pay gap identified in the Dacre review.

She said: 'The lack of flexibility in partnerships is one of the main reasons that people refrain from taking on these roles, and yet despite this little has been done at a national level to support an increase in flexible working. Flexible portfolio working is clearly the direction of travel for general practice and it is not something to be feared.

In fact it can possibly enhance the profession - data from other sectors shows that flexible working improves recruitment and retention with no significant impact on quality of work, and leads to a more motivated workforce. And demand for these roles far outstrips supply - so those roles that are advertised attract the highest calibre of applicants.'

She called for a proactive approach to promoting flexible working to 'take strides towards reducing the gender pay gap and galvanising the future of the partnership model'. Dr Westerbeek added: 'Who doesn't want a happy, diverse, motivated and fully staffed workforce?'

GPC England gender diversity champion Dr Rachel Ali told the conference that the pay gap was being taken 'very seriously' within the BMA and its GP commitee - and that a working group starting work shortly would have strong GP representation.

Read the motion backed in in full by LMCs:

AGENDA COMMITTEE TO BE PROPOSED BY LEICESTER, LEICESTERSHIRE AND RUTLAND: That conference welcomes the Dacre and Romney reports, and calls for:

(i) the GPC to produce an annual report to this conference to include up to date data on the gender pay gap, what actions have been implemented and what change in the pay gap has resulted
(ii) the GPC to negotiate changes to all general practice contractor contracts to encourage and support
part time and flexible working in partnerships
(iii) the GPC to provide an annual report to this conference to include the number and type of all relevant complaints and outcomes, and all actions taken that year to ensure and assure appropriate behaviour by members and staff.

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