The BMA has said no legal obligations were breached in its handling of GP Committee chair Dr Farah Jameel’s removal yesterday.
The BMA has also confirmed that new elections will take place imminently, with nominations for the next chair and deputy chairs opening on Monday (24 July).
This follows received backlash suggesting the move was discriminatory, including a petition which has now had almost 500 signatures.
A BMA spokesperson said: [Yesterday’s] vote is an exceptional situation for GPC England, made clear by the motion itself and subsequent press statements made by the BMA.
‘The Association is, and always has been, committed to upholding its legal obligations, and is satisfied it has complied with them.’
Pulse understands that the GPCE chair position does not hold an employment contract with the BMA and therefore the Equality Act 2010, which legally protects people from discrimination in the workplace, may not apply.
The union’s spokesperson added: ‘The BMA fiercely condemns any form of sexism or racism and remains fully committed to delivering the recommendations of the Romney review.’
GPCE passed a vote of no confidence in its elected chair yesterday, citing concerns at the ‘lack of clarity surrounding the status of the alleged suspension’ of Dr Jameel, who is currently on maternity leave.
One LMC confederation today said it would be ‘natural’ for colleagues to be concerned that her removal was ‘discriminatory’.
In a letter to members, seen by Pulse, chief executive of Surrey and Sussex LMCs Dr Julius Parker said GPCE members used the vote of no confidence as a ‘necessary mechanism’ rather than a criticism of Dr Jameel.
According to Dr Parker, the committee had ‘received advice’ that Dr Jameel’s absence from the role of elected chair ‘might extend well into 2024’.
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.
She began maternity leave at around the same time as her suspension, and as such formal hearings have not yet taken place.
Dr Parker said: ‘Clearly each GPC member had their own reasons for voting as they did, but it is apparent that many GPC members reluctantly voted in favour because this was the only mechanism to address the “democratic deficit” in which GPC England is without an elected chair, who can undertake their duties, and GPC England had received advice that this situation might extend well into 2024.
‘Colleagues will need no reminding that the next round of negotiations are crucial for the profession: my personal view is that a majority of GPC members believed the only way of addressing this on-going challenge was to trigger the election of a new chair and executive team.’
Committee members who proposed the motion said ‘democratic representation of the profession’ was crucial, especially ahead of ‘significant impending contractual and political upheaval’ over the next year.