Hamish Meldrum’s successor as chair of BMA council will be announced next week. The three candidates explain their suitability for the role.
There is already plenty on the agenda for the next BMA council chair: pensions, implementation of controversial NHS reforms, and the possible introduction of revalidation.
Three candidates are competing to succeed outgoing BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum, who has served his maximum five-year term. The successful candidate, due to be elected following the close of next week’s BMA annual representative meeting in Bournemouth, will serve an initial three-year term and can then be re-elected for a further two years.
Only voting members of the council will have a say in choosing the chair. The meeting on June 28 will be the first session of those who were elected to the council in April.
Here, the three candidates, listed in alphabetical order, explain why they are standing in the election.
Mark Porter is Coventry consultant anaesthetist and BMA consultants committee chair
‘I joined the BMA to change things. I am passionate about an NHS that provides for the benefit of patients and not shareholders; about outcomes being clinically, not commercially, motivated; about having a workforce that is valued and trusted; and about medicine being an honourable and learned profession, developing the next generation of doctors and increasing its learning to further benefit our patients.
‘Those principles are as relevant as they ever were, and I am just as passionate about them. However, conviction alone is not enough. The BMA is first and foremost a membership organisation with high expectations, and with views and priorities as diverse as its members.
‘Its leadership must be able to be strong and decisive where its founding principles are being tested to destruction, but it must also be able to listen, learn and respond, building consensus which is pursued just as passionately as those issues that first brought me into medical politics.
‘Through roles leading committees and teams, I have put those skills into practice. Our profession is under unprecedented attack, and at this critical time it is on this basis that I stand for the chair of the BMA council.’
George Rae is a Tyne and Wear GP and BMA north-east regional council chair
‘This is the most difficult, testing, uncertain time for the profession. The dominant factors are the Health and Social Care Act, pensions (where the government has displayed a breathtaking betrayal of trust), and revalidation.
‘The ideological, market-based policies in the NHS in England are potentially very damaging to our professionalism and medical training. There is little evidence they will improve the quality of care, and I will ensure the concerns about the fabric, ethos and sustainability of the NHS are never lost on the government.
‘Pensions must achieve some positive outcome. We must resonate even more with the public about the total unfairness and inequity, where doctors will soon have to pay twice as much as others in the public sector. This will help in efforts to get back to the negotiating table.
‘Revalidation issues, like attempts from some deaneries, strategic health authorities and primary care organisations to introduce enhanced appraisal with no legal or contractual basis, must be resolved.
‘I have conviction and have demonstrated the values over the years that the majority of doctors ascribe to. I think my leadership would be strong because what the profession aspires to is powerfully connected to what I genuinely want personally and care about.’
Michael Rees is a Bangor professor of cardiovascular studies and the BMA medical academic staff committee co-chair
‘As a chair of a smaller craft committee that includes all branches of practice, I believe I can be a non-partisan council chair.
‘I have experience of senior positions in the NHS and the academic sector, and have lectured and taught in a number of different countries. I have helped form and become president of a European specialty medical society. I have also negotiated on behalf of doctors at national level in the health and academic sectors.
‘I have been involved in the BMA for most of my career at national and local level, so I have an in-depth knowledge of how the BMA works. I feel the way the BMA council functions needs to change to allow council to fulfil the demanding task of acting as the board of directors as well as looking after the affairs of the association.
‘I will enable the council to fully take the lead within the BMA, and be responsible to its electorate for the conduct of the association.
‘I will help integrate the scientific and professional work of the BMA with its trade union activities, and develop a voice for the association that is listened to by its members and the public.’