Report on BMA sexism has been gathering dust for a month

The BMA has yet to publish findings from a major investigation into sexism and harassment within the association despite receiving a final report a month ago.

BMA House (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)
BMA House (Photo: Malcolm Case-Green)

The BMA promised an urgent investigation earlier this year after GPonline reported on senior women within its GP committee speaking out over a 'sexist culture'.

Senior female GPs reported having experienced belittling, crude and sexist comments, being frozen out of meetings or ignored and facing sexual harassment, with further concerns emerging at the BMA's annual representative meeting (ARM) earlier this year.

Leading barrister Daphne Romney QC - an expert on employment and discrimination law - was appointed in June to lead an independent investigation into sexism and harassment, a process the BMA said it expected to take around two months to complete.

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The association promised at the time that key findings and recommendations would be published in full - and doctors' leaders voted at the ARM in June for 'findings of the external investigation into complaints of sexism and harassment within the BMA to be published in a timely manner and any recommendations to improve the complaints procedure to be implemented'.

However, a month after Ms Romney delivered a report on the investigation to the BMA, it has yet to be made public and is understood to have been seen by only a small number of officials within the association.

A BMA spokesperson told GPonline on 16 September that a report on findings from the independent investigation had been completed and would be shared with 'key members of BMA staff in due course'.

A month later, the BMA said it still could not give a precise date when the recommendations would be made public - although GPonline has been told that this will happen before the end of 2019.

Sexism concerns

Dr Matt Mayer, an LMCs conference representative who proposed an ARM motion on sexism, said: 'I would expect the report to be "published in a timely manner" as that was the policy which was passed by the ARM. I would be disappointed if the BMA were appearing to defy its own representative body.'

Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer, one of the leading GPs who spoke out about sexism earlier this year, told GPonline: 'I remain optimistic, with the new transparency agenda around BMA leadership that was in this week's BMJ, that the report will be shared in full with Council members when we meet next month.'

The journal reported comments from BMA chair Dr Chaand Nagpaul this week, in which he admitted that the association had not done enough to tackle inequality and sexism - but added that 'what we are committed to doing is being very clear and upfront and forward looking, to address those issues and to embed equality as a value that we believe in'.

The BMA said earlier this year that the independent investigation would make 'specific recommendations to address sexism or sexual harassment in the BMA' after considering allegations by past and present BMA committee members.

Inequality

It also made clear that the investigation would assess how past complaints have been handled, look at barriers to reporting concerns, consider 'the current degree of sexism/gender inequality in the BMA' and assess 'organisational or systemic factors' that may have contributed to inequality.

Dr Nagpaul apologised to women who had experienced sexism and harassment within the BMA earlier this year and said that 'sexist, disrespectful, discriminatory and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated in this association and must be stamped out'.

However, the BMA faced claims earlier this year of wanting to 'brush sexism under the carpet' after ARM conference motions on sexism put forward by three of its regional divisions were amalgamated - before a last-minute U-turn.

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