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BMA suspends junior doctor leader over ‘old’ tweets about racism

BMA suspends junior doctor leader over ‘old’ tweets about racism

A junior doctor leader has been suspended from the BMA after national newspapers published tweets on racism he had made during medical school. 

The BMA launched an investigation on Friday following ‘a complaint’, Pulse understands.

Dr Kayode Oki, a foundation year one doctor in South Thames, was a voting member of the BMA Council and had first become involved in the union as a medical student in 2020. 

Some of his posts on Twitter, made between 2020 and 2022 while he was a student, were unearthed by The Sun who described Dr Oki as ‘radical BMA leader’ who was ‘behind crippling junior doctor strikes’.

His tweets included references to ‘white supremacy’ within the medical community and the Asian and Minority Ethnic communities, and received backlash from Conservative politicians. 

The BMA has not explicitly confirmed whether the suspension was based on Dr Oki’s tweets, however the suspension came one day after newspaper’s article.

The union told MailOnline on Friday that he had ‘been removed from taking part in any and all BMA business with immediate effect’ and that an ‘external independent investigation’ will take place. 

Dr Oki told Pulse his comments have been ‘deliberately taken out of context’ and that some comments have been wrongly attributed to him. 

Referring to a ‘complaint’ against him, Dr Oki said he is ‘disappointed’ that his work as a BMA leader ‘has been affected by an attempt to discredit legitimate industrial action’. 

Following his suspension last week, an online petition was launched to ‘reverse the suspension’ and ‘stop the investigation’, which has since received over 1,500 signatures. 

Dr Samantha Gordon, a consultant ophthalmologist at Barts Health who started the petition, said the ‘old tweets’ were ‘rightly calling out systemic and structural racism in medicine and British society’. 

She wrote: ‘We are signing this petition calling on the BMA to lift the suspension of Dr Oki, stop the investigation and instead censure The Daily Mail and The Sun for their disgraceful attacks on the integrity of our junior doctors.’

Dr Oki was elected to the 69-member BMA Council in 2022 as a medical students representative, and was due to serve until 2024.

He was previously the deputy chair of the medical students’ committee from September 2021 while he was studying at the University of Dundee.

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Responding to his suspension, Dr Oki told Pulse: ‘My experience of institutions did not give me much hope and I joined the British Medical Association to change that for others. 

‘First as a local rep fighting against the redeployment of Medical students to act as unpaid foundation doctors in COVID wards. Then as the deputy chair for education within the medical student’s committee, I spearheaded the review of the job application process for newly qualified doctors.

‘On the BMA council, I have continued to ensure that the rich diversity of our profession is considered in all its decisions.’

He added: ‘The union’s confidential proceedings mean I am not able to discuss the complaint but I am disappointed that my ability to continue to conduct impactful work as part of the BMA leadership has been affected by an attempt to discredit legitimate industrial action. 

‘Sadly, comments are deliberately being taken out of context and comments that haven’t been said at all have been attributed to me.’

A spokesperson for the BMA told Pulse today: ‘Our resolution process runs externally to the BMA as per the recommendations of the 2019 Romney Report.

‘Concerns raised need to be properly and sensitively investigated by our external and independent investigators and we have asked Dr Oki to step back from BMA business whilst this investigation is carried out.

‘This is a neutral step, and no decisions or outcomes have been reached in this case. Challenging racism and discrimination remains a core priority for the BMA and we will continue to support our members’ rights to speak out on these vital issues.’

Dr Oki took part in recent junior doctor strikes, which took place across three- and four-day periods in March and April. 

The strikes were held after more than 36,000 BMA members voted in favour of strikes over the 26% real-terms cut to their pay since 2008. 

The pay dispute continues, with the BMA junior doctor committee calling on the Government last week to ‘drop their barriers to talks’, saying health secretary Steve Barclay ‘continues to demand that we drop our opening position’.

Last year, the BMA put the chair of the GP Committee England on ‘temporary suspension’ following complaints made by the organisation’s staff. 

However, LMCs expressed concern with this decision, stating it was ‘contradictory’ to the efforts to tackle ‘institutional sexism within the BMA’. 

Last month, a report by the GMC revealed the inequalities experienced by medical trainees, with black doctors being more likely than any other ethnic group to fail specialty exams.

And in January an MDDUS survey showed that over one in five (22%) of young GPs has experienced racism in the workplace.



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

Grant Jonathan Ingrams 24 April, 2023 12:54 pm

Report after report has shown that the BMA remains racist, misogynistic and its resolution process is discriminatory. Seems he was only saying what is already known.

nasir hannan 24 April, 2023 3:52 pm

this is a link to the petition for ease.


David Banner 25 April, 2023 12:06 am

Steady now. Before everyone starts rushing to either condemn or defend Dr Oki let’s remember he has stated that he has been misrepresented and that some tweets were not even sent by him. He has been suspended until an enquiry can investigate the claims against him. If some of the more serious claims he has denied are proven (e.g. “I would never read a book written by a white man”) then he has no place in the BMA, but if he is innocent (as he claims), then he/we are right to condemn the gutter press and restore him to his former position.
But let’s hear the facts before rushing to either sign petitions or unfairly trash a possibly innocent man’s reputation.

Cameron Wilson 25 April, 2023 6:11 pm

Excellent comment David.
On a general note, putting yourself up for office in the public domain seems such a liability in this day of access to all manner of social media, often taken years ago and that’s even before you get into disinformation etc!
Don’t think many of us live a saintly existence but I do believe in tolerance, that maturity changes people and like David says we shouldn’t rush to judge.
I am no fan of Politicians, but some aspects of their lives, I certainly would not like to endure. The ones who use the media to rubbish their opponents, they deserve no sympathy when the tide turns!

Lise Hertel 26 April, 2023 1:59 pm

The S*n and the Daily Fail, those well known bastions of anti racism.
The S*n? Remember Hillsborough?
The Daily Fail? Remember the current owners grandfather, when he owned the Fail, he liked to hang out with Hitler and support the Nazi’s.
I understand where the BMA is coming from, but I think this time they should have remained firm and supported this young passionate doctor. They have allowed thrmselves to be manipulated by the foreign owned MSM. That never ends well.

David Church 29 April, 2023 10:29 am

Suspension can be a neutral act, IF it is to support and facilitate a thorough and prompt investigation and response from the accused. But only if it is short and followed by an appropriate response.
Bear in mind here that an appropriate response to a malicious accusation for political purposes may well be to censure the media for libellous publishing with negligence or intent.
Can you imagine anybody at all managing to finish Medical School without reading a single book by a white author? Some news editors must have pretty poor educational levels.
Political leaders may be fair game for ethical monitoring, but in a civilised society, they are NOT fair game for false accusations simply because they have given efforts freely to try to improve the lot of others.