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BMA England GP Committee declares no confidence in chair

BMA England GP Committee declares no confidence in chair

The BMA’s GP Committee for England has passed a vote of no confidence in its elected chair Dr Farah Jameel, who is currently on maternity leave. 

The motion, put forward by committee members, proposed that the GPCE is ‘deeply concerned at the lack of clarity surrounding the status of the alleged suspension’ of Dr Jameel, and demanded new elections be held imminently. 

Pulse understands the motion was passed in all parts this morning.

Dr Jameel was elected as the first female GPCE chair in late 2021, but was put on temporary suspension in November last year following complaints made by the organisation’s staff.

However, formal hearings into the complaint have not yet taken place due to Dr Jameel’s ongoing maternity leave, which she began at around the same time as her suspension towards the end of last year. 

Dr Kieran Sharrock, a GP in Lincolnshire, is currently standing in as acting chair during her absence. 

The BMA has confirmed that nominations for the next chair of GPC England will open shortly, and Dr Sharrock will remain in position until a new chair has been elected.

Dr Jameel will continue as a member of the committee.

Some GPs and other healthcare professionals have expressed concern about the fairness of this vote of no confidence, with a petition launching yesterday calling for its withdrawal having received over 300 signatures.

The GPC equalities lead and proposer of the motion Dr Rachel Ali said it was not ‘brought on by the actions of any individual’, but rather ‘to give the committee a chance to offer a clear democratic mandate to the leadership of the profession and end the uncertainty of the last few months’.

She said: ‘We have an absolutely critical window now to safeguard general practice and in these key few months we need to galvanise the committee and organise our colleagues across the country.

‘As the GPC equalities chair I want to assure members that we have considered this motion very carefully, and given the Standing Orders of the committee, we feel it is the only fair way forward.’

The BMA’s co-CEO Rachel Podolak said: ‘The BMA’s resolution process is run independently and externally to the BMA, as recommended by the Romney and Tierney reviews.

‘The process provides confidentiality to both complainants and respondents. We always aim to conclude all processes as soon as possible.’

Motion in full

That this committee is deeply concerned at the lack of clarity surrounding the status of the alleged suspension of the Chair of GPCE ahead of significant impending contractual and political upheaval from now through 2024, and:

i) is sympathetic towards the Chair and the difficult circumstances surrounding her absence

ii) applauds the Acting Chair and Officer Team for their commitment, work, and leadership during the Chair’s absence 

iii) asserts that the proper, effective, democratic representation of the profession is of paramount importance to this committee 

iv) regrets that it has no alternative but the declare that this committee has no confidence in the current elected Chair of GPCE, and demands elections be held as soon as possible for a new Chair (and subsequent Officer Team) in accordance with Standing Orders

Proposer: Rachel Ali

Seconders: Paul Evans, Bruce Hughes, Ivan Camphor, Mark Steggles, Diana Hunter, James Booth, Shaba Nabi, Matt Mayer, Rob Barnett

Correction: A previous version of this article listed Dr Deborah Colvin and Dr Jackie Applebee as seconders to this motion, however they have confirmed that they withdrew their names before the motion was presented at the meeting.



Please note, only GPs are permitted to add comments to articles

David Church 20 July, 2023 11:19 am

How is this possible?
If Dr Jameel is on leave, her duties should have been covered by a Deputy duly appointed.
How can Committee assess her performance, and their lack of confidence, if she has not had chance to do anything one way or another since Novermber last year?
Was the Deputy arrangement not adequate? – and if so, then the Standing orders need some updating.
Was the Deputy also displaced by this event? Why?

David jenkins 20 July, 2023 11:35 am

David Church

AGREE – 100%

Manpreet Pujara 20 July, 2023 12:50 pm

Agree & find it unbeliveable that this can happen in 2023 when no formal hearings have taken place. It is the job of the standing chair and any deputies to carry out the on going work required in the chair’s absence!

Julian Spinks 20 July, 2023 1:25 pm

Without any knowledge of, or desire to comment on the reasons for the vote, it is worth pointing out that the situation with an elected official is not the same as an employee. As a result, the process of a vote of no confidence does not require all the steps that would lead up to dismissal an employee.

Some Bloke 20 July, 2023 3:51 pm

important observation, Julian.
to be honest I am more concerned with our profession lacking united representation at the time when everyone else is striking, then with the process of de election

Mr Marvellous 20 July, 2023 4:07 pm

@Some Bloke, exactly.

This is all very well but GPs are hugely struggling (particularly Partners with the fixed 2pc deal) and with a “new contract” right around the corner GPC needs to get itself sorted out.

James Weems 20 July, 2023 7:41 pm

Whatever has gone on here, things need to move quickly from this point on. We need a galvanized GPC with the hard negotiating skills and drive to get what the profession so badly needs.
Aim number one. DO NOT allow any future contracts to be imposed by NHSE. the fact that it was allowed to happen twice was out of order. It must not happen a third Time. Over to you now. Good luck.

Mark Funnell 20 July, 2023 7:47 pm

This episode leaves me deeply uncomfortable. I have no knowledge of what the suspension relates to but I believe that what has been done today leaves the GPC England open to further accusations, rightly or wrongly, about their stance on women & BAME colleagues & undermines the credibility of general practice & their representation at a time when strong leadership & clear vision are required for the future of our specialty as we know it.
The comments elsewhere in the editorial were spot on & I can only sit here & shake my head at the mess we are in.
Regardless of the rights of an elected official versus an employee, this looks & feels bad to me & will be seen that way by neutral onlookers.

Sally Johnston 20 July, 2023 10:37 pm

I wish to leave the BMA forthwith, because I am very disappointed in the GPC’s persistent, toxic & indefensible sexism as evidenced by the vote of no confidence in Farah today, the GPC does not & never has represented me as a female GP.

Clare Sieber 21 July, 2023 8:47 am

Having been on GPCE and reading between the lines of the motion, it looks like the committee doesn’t have confidence in those currently leading (i.e. the exec) for whatever reason, and the only way the standing orders allow the committee to move those people on is by going to the top and removing the chair that they are associated with. The SOs, in fact the whole governance, is not fit for purpose, and it has sadly resulted in a VONC in someone who is on maternity leave. Terrible optics and I imagine this will be very costly to the BMA to settle this.
Just like with well written valid partnership agreements, they pay for themselves.
This is now an opportunity of course, let’s see what GPCE/BMA does with it….

John Glasspool 21 July, 2023 10:17 am

DOn’t worry Sally: it never represented me as a bloke either!

Centreground Centreground 21 July, 2023 11:28 am

Appears to be very complex arguments on both sides and clearly could have been handled better. Additionally requires ongoing contingency plans to be developed for the future to cover such eventualities so GPs are not left without representation whatever the reason for the situation arising in the first place.