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Winning back lost respect

It was the chair of the BMA who was ultimately forced to resign from his post for his handling of the MTAS fiasco, rather than Patricia Hewitt. The fact that Mr James Johnson fell on his sword while Ms Hewitt, at least for the time being, remains in office, speaks volumes for the different codes of honour that exist within medicine and politics.

The fact remains though that Mr Johnson, by his own admission, had woefully failed to reflect the huge anger among his members about MTAS. Sadly the same is true of a whole series of other issues.

The BMA failed dismally to counter Government spin when it came to attacks on GPs' income. A pay freeze resulted in an unprecedented summit last month but nothing in the way of concrete action. With hundreds of angry doctors bombarding BMA HQ with letters and emails, Mr Johnson had little choice but to go.

GPs in the running

But his departure can now herald a new approach which should involve listening to members and not being afraid to stand up and be counted.

Two GPs – deputy BMA chair Dr Sam Everington and GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum – are among those in the running to take over. Although it could be argued they have been part of the furniture, many GPs will welcome an experienced voice in primary care taking the helm.

But only when that voice starts making itself heard in the corridors of power will the BMA start winning back the respect of its members.

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