Grassroots GPs have called for greater transparency from the BMA’s GP Committee, including responding to recent criticisms regarding this ‘in full’.
In an open letter to the GPC and BMA, grassroots organisation GP Survival said it was ‘saddened to read of the resignation of Dr Clare Sieber from GPC England, both for the fact of her resignation and for the rationale she cites’.
It said: ‘We call upon GPC England and the BMA to answer Dr Sieber’s criticisms, in full, in order to answer the concerns raised by many GPs familiar with the matter, with particular reference to both the pausing of industrial action and the matters relating to the report by Daphne Romney QC.’
The letter also made reference to a motion debated at the BMA’s England LMCs Conference in November, calling for greater ‘transparency’ from GPC England.
GP Survival thanked Dr Sieber for ‘the openness with which she served her constituents, in accordance with the policy of transparency mandated for GPC England by the England LMC Conference 2021’.
The vote took place during a section of the conference that was ‘closed’ to the public, but Pulse understands it was passed with a strong majority.
LMCs Conference motion on GPC England transparency
AGENDA COMMITTEE TO BE PROPOSED BY GATESHEAD AND SOUTH TYNESIDE: That conference is concerned about an apparent loss of connection between grassroots GPs and their elected representatives on GPC England and:
(i) requires that brief minutes be made available to constituents of GPC England meetings
(ii) calls for a standing item on the conference agenda where GPC England reports successes and failures of negotiation and seeks conference’s views on a way forward
(iii) demands that the voting records of GPC England members from this point onwards be made available to constituents to enhance transparency
(iv) requires a review of the function of GPC England, with a recommendation that, if needs be, professional negotiators are engaged for future negotiations, paid for by GPDF.
Earlier this week, Surrey and Sussex LMCs chief executive Dr Julius Parker said he feels a ‘sense of deep disappointment and concern’ about Dr Sieber’s resignation after less than four months serving on the committee.
In a letter to local GPs, Dr Parker said that both GPC motions and LMC Conference motions that ‘should drive GPC England policy have failed to do so’.
He added that he has also ‘raised concerns’ that the BMA Resolution process used to investigate complaints about alleged conduct breaches ‘risks being used to stifle debate’.
The letter said: ‘More broadly, as a GPCE member, I share her concerns that GPCE is failing to provide leadership to a profession that is shackled to a contract that seems no longer fit for purpose.’
Other GPs have also 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.
A BMA spokesperson said: ‘The BMA takes complaints and feedback raised with us very seriously. Dr Sieber’s concerns have been referred to our external investigators and they will now consider these.
‘Investigations are carried out independently of the BMA, by an external law firm, and are also confidential, and therefore we will not be able to say any more at this stage.’
Former GPC representative for East/West Sussex Dr Sieber last week revealed that she had been referred under the BMA’s code of conduct for sharing a critical report on the latest GPC meeting that said there had been no progress on industrial action.
Dr Sieber resigned over the attempts to ‘silence’ her, saying she ‘cannot stand by and allow the BMA to restrict what I share with constituents to fulfil my representative role’, amid ‘non-existent’ accountability and transparency within the committee.