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GP industrial action proposer resigns from BMA over attempts to ‘silence’ her


transparency BMA


BMA representative Dr Clare Sieber has resigned from the GP Committee due to concerns over its transparency and communication.

The GPC representative for East/West Sussex revealed that she was yesterday referred under the BMA’s code of conduct for sharing a critical report on last week’s GPC meeting that said there had been no progress on industrial action. 

In an open letter to GPC chair Dr Farah Jameel, Dr Sieber – who originally proposed a motion on GP industrial action in October – said she would resign with ‘immediate effect’ and also wishes to end her membership of the BMA as a whole.

Her letter said: ‘I absolutely cannot stand by and allow the BMA to restrict what I share with constituents to fulfil my representative role: my most recent GPC England report makes for uncomfortable reading, but this should not permit the BMA to silence it.’

And she added: ‘The GPC is, I believe, without strategy and direction. The communication internally and externally is chaotic, and accountability and transparency feel almost non-existent.’

Dr Sieber, who has served on the committee for ‘less than four months’, said she has been ‘utterly frustrated and sometimes in despair of what I have witnessed’.

She said she ‘can’t overlook the fact that I proposed the motion about industrial action several months ago and a satisfactory update on progress has not been provided to my constituents’.

She added: ‘The silence is deafening, and in the current climate where there is a lack of trust between GPC England and LMCs/GPs, constituents fill the gap and assume this has been kicked into the long grass

‘They assume this is either because GPC England doesn’t want IA, or that the wider organisation doesn’t. I can’t legitimately remain a voting member of a committee that has not progressed the motion I proposed beyond publicising results of the indicative ballot last year and hasn’t given a clear reason as to why.’

She added: ‘I feel my position on the committee is untenable; I no longer wish to be associated with it, having tried hard to make it a better governed, transparent, and accountable organisation, and I simply don’t believe it adequately performs a representative function for my constituents.

‘l am resigning with immediate effect from my position as GPC representative for East / West Sussex; I also wish to resign my membership of the BMA.’

Dr Sieber urged GPC colleagues to consider whether the committee can ‘adequately represent their constituent’s views and if not, to follow me out of the door’. 

Her letter also said: 

  • There is ‘no formal process for learning events nor suggestions for improvement’
  • The BMA’s resolution process for complaints about conduct breaches ‘has been weaponised as a way of avoiding accountability or improving through learning, and to stifle debate and discourage dissent’
  • An independent report commissioned ‘several years ago’ to review this has not been made public
  • The BMA ‘does not feel’ like an organisation ‘willing to address its culture’ and is ‘no place for a woman who wishes to speak her mind’

A BMA spokesperson said: ‘We are very sorry to see Clare leaving GPC England and that she feels she can no longer contribute for the reasons she has outlined. This is deeply upsetting to us as an organisation.’

It added: ‘We take all complaints seriously and every formal complaint made by members and staff is investigated.  The resolution process for managing complaints is a neutral process and conducted entirely independently and externally to the BMA.  

‘The BMA follows due process and must consider all referrals made to it. Given the confidential nature of such matters, we cannot comment on any specific case until it has concluded.’

The BMA said it had made ‘substantial strides to foster a more inclusive culture in recent years and address levels of underrepresentation on committees’, including with the election of Dr Jameel as the first-ever female GPC England chair.

It added that it is ‘committed to represent the profession, celebrate diversity, embrace inclusivity, making sure every voice is heard and every individual given the opportunity to thrive’.

‘We are very sorry to lose Clare,’ the spokesperson said.

GPs have rallied in support of Dr Sieber – including her predecessor Dr Russell Brown, who resigned from the East/West Sussex GPC seat after the BMA voted to resume talks with NHS England in September.

It comes as GP leaders have expressed fears that the BMA’s formal GP ballot on industrial action has been ‘kicked into the long grass’.

Pulse revealed last month that the BMA had not yet decided whether it would launch a formal ballot of GPs on industrial action.

Its indicative ballot in November showed over half of GP practices are willing to opt-out of the PCN DES as part of a range of protest measures concerning the Government’s GP access fund.

Meanwhile, GP leaders attending the BMA’s England LMCs Conference in November debated a motion calling for greater ‘transparency’ from GPC England – including the publication of ‘brief minutes’ from meetings and ‘voting records’ of members.

READERS' COMMENTS [13]

Paul Attwood 28 January, 2022 12:30 pm

Commendable. I have paid for many a nice rejuvenating holiday from the subs I might have paid the BMA. Left in 1990 in disgust after Ken Clarke accused GPs of “feeling for their wallets” and the BMA kept their powder dry (did nothing). Well worth a look back and reflect that was 32 years ago. Nothing has changed.

Decorum Est 28 January, 2022 12:34 pm

Resigned from the BMA over three decades ago. They were rubbish then and apparently continue to be useless. Still you tried Clare and it is appreciated.

Clare Sieber 28 January, 2022 12:38 pm

thanks

Robert James Andrew Mackenzie Koefman 28 January, 2022 12:51 pm

Well done Clare thanks for trying i hope someone in BMA or GPC will take notice but im afraid probably not

Patrufini Duffy 28 January, 2022 12:55 pm

Inside job – well done. I am surprised even the RCGP still has a membership. Pays for good wine and canapes, and an almost incestuous Professorship kudos.

David Miranda 28 January, 2022 1:38 pm

Don’t forget the Damehoods and Knighthoods!

Slobber Dog 28 January, 2022 2:24 pm

Maybe I could manage without the weekly journal after all.

John Glasspool 28 January, 2022 2:48 pm

Well done her! I did the same as Paul Attwood and for the same reasons. I never regretted my decision. I know of another doctor who was booted out of the GPC because she dared to make public their secrets which they withheld from the paying members that were keeping them in subsidised Claret.

BMA- “Betray my associates”.

David Sword 28 January, 2022 3:44 pm

test

Turn out The Lights 28 January, 2022 6:27 pm

BMA glad I don’t waste my money on them.Seem like another bunch of bullies to control the plebs.

Nihar Shah 28 January, 2022 6:38 pm

absolutely agree with you Clare. I gave up my membership of the BMA over 20years ago….complete waste of money! They are toothless/ politically driven with no idea of grassroot issues

Rogue 1 31 January, 2022 11:40 am

Quite agree Clare, thank you for having the time and drive to give it a try!
We now only have 1 GP who is a member, so at least we do get access as a practice.
But yes its an outdated waste of space

James Weems 31 January, 2022 3:10 pm

Not been in BMA for years. Well done for speaking up and sticking to your principles Clare.