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Row in store over BMA chair vote

BMA members are to vote on a major shake-up of the organisation's leadership after GPs branded its election procedures unrepresentative.

Pulse can reveal the annual representative meeting later this month will debate a call for voting for the BMA chair to be opened up to all 139,000 UK members.If the motion succeeds it will mean whoever is chosen to replace Mr James Johnson, who resigned last month amid huge controversy over the BMA's handling of the MTAS scandal, will only serve a year before having to submit themselves for re-election. Until now, the 34-strong BMA council has been responsible for electing the chair, for a three-year term. BMA deputy chair Dr Sam Everington and GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum are in the running to take over from Mr Johnson.BMA council member Dr Kailish Chand, a GP in Ashton under Lyne in Lancashire, is planning to propose a motion at the meeting. He said: 'This so-called electoral college has got to be expanded. Then whoever takes charge will be more representative and have more power.'If you look at the current situation we have a membership where two-thirds are either from ethnic minorities or women, and yet in the entire BMA history, we've never had a woman chair or an ethnic minority chair.' Dr Chand is proposing a voting system that would give a third of the votes for the leadership to the BMA council, a third to its committees and a third to the wider membership.Dr Chaand Nagpaul, a GP in Stanmore, Middlesex, and chair of the BMA commissioning services development sub-committee, said: 'There is a strong argument for widening the elect- orate. The chair would be more accountable and more legitimately command support.'BMA council member Dr Mary Church, a Glasgow GP, said she expected the issue to be a source of major debate at the conference: 'Those of us on the council want to hear what the ARM has to say about it.'Dr Fay Wilson, a Birmingham GP and chair of next week's LMCs conference, which is set to call for the BMA to be much stronger in campaigning against issues such as the GP pay freeze, said: 'I think there is a case for change.' But Dr Richard Vautrey, a GP in Leeds and GPC negotiator, said: 'What we have at the moment is the result of widespread consultation.' He said he was 'not convinced' changing the BMA's voting structures would achieve Dr Chand's aims.

Council faces stormy waters at annualreps' meeting

• BMA council members have told Pulse they expect the annual representative meeting, which runs from 25 to 28 June in Torquay, to be one of the stormiest in its history• Among issues to be discussed is a possible breakaway from doctors' body Remedy UK, sparked by the MTAS fiasco • This week the BMA president, Professor Parveen Kumar, published an open letter in The Times warning against the perils of infighting and promising the BMA would be stronger in standing up to the Government

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