Long-standing BMA GP committee member re-elected after controversial election

A controversial BMA GP committee election that lasted seven months has ended with the long-standing incumbent candidate being re-elected.

BMA GP committee election

Dr Peter Holden has been re-elected as Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire's representative on the GP committee after the election was paused in March this year following complaints of a breach in rules.

Voting in the election was suspended on 5 March after a claim that canvassing rules had been broken when an unsolicited email asking local GPs to back Dr Holden was sent from one of the LMCs.

An investigation launched by the BMA's independent scrutineer for elections found a breach of an election process had occurred, but that no individual should be referred to a BMA resolution panel. The  investigation found that 'an email had been sent in error to GP practice administrators by an LMC without the agreement of LMC officers - and against its own policy'.

In June Dr Holden voluntarily withdrew from the election, leaving two nominees - understood to be Dr Shan Hussain and Dr Kalindi K Tumurugoti - in the running.

GPC elections

However, GPonline has learnt that Dr Holden was allowed to re-enter the election following independent legal advice given to the BMA.

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘Earlier this year we paused the Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire regional election to GPC following complaints received. Following the voluntary withdrawal of one of the candidates from the election we announced in June that we would be reopening these elections with the two remaining candidates.

‘Following further complaints, we were required to delay opening the elections and seek further independent legal advice on how to fairly conduct the election. As a result of that independent legal advice, we re-opened the entire election process, from the nomination stage, with all eligible candidates able to stand.’

Dr Holden told GPonline: 'I was fully investigated under a formal BMA procedure by an external firm of lawyers and I was exonerated.'

The election process has, however, been criticised by GPs on Twitter, with election candidate Dr Shan Hussain expressing disbelief at how the incumbent candidate was allowed to re-enter the competition following a breach of canvassing rules.

Other GPs also questioned the fairness of the BMA’s voting process.

East London GP partner Dr Selvaseelan Selvarajah, said: ‘This is unacceptable. If you break the rules, you shouldn’t stand and wait for the next round of elections, not take part in the same one. We need robust processes for GP reps.’

BMA guidelines state that candidates 'must not use BMA resources to canvass voters and should not send them unsolicited communications'. A different candidate in the same region withdrew from the election in March over concerns that rural GPs had been unable to access the voting system.

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