Slipping down the chart this year is Dr Hamish Meldrum, the former chair of the BMA who relinquished his position to consultant Dr Mark Porter.
The last 12 months of Dr Meldrum’s chairmanship were unquestionably the most challenging, as his feted diplomacy and mediation skills were tested to the limit by the dual fight against NHS pensions reforms and the Health and Social Care Bill.
His reluctant co-ordination of doctors’ first industrial action in 37 years was a defining moment for both him and the profession. Although patient backlash was minimal he was forced to counter negative headlines in the national press, while ultimately it was the BMA – and not the Government – that was forced into a climb-down.
Dr Meldrum also faced the tough task of leading the BMA’s campaign against the Health and Social Care Bill and trying to forge a consistent message from the disparate opinion within the association. He was heavily criticised by some dissenters on BMA Council for failing to fight harder against the legislation – and, as Pulse revealed last September, was forced to issue council with a John Major-style ‘back me or sack me’ ultimatum.
A low point came last autumn, when 100 of 110 doctors at the BMA’s London regional annual general meeting censured Dr Meldrum for failing to promote members’ views and campaign for the withdrawal of the bill.
He ended his five-year chairmanship on a characteristically temperate note, urging doctors at this year’s Annual Representative Meeting that ‘nobody should be rushing to repeat or escalate’ the day of action over pensions reforms.
Dr Meldrum, who served as chair of GPC prior to becoming BMA chair, retired from his practice in Bridlington, East Yorkshire, in March 2011.