Pulse’s revelation this week that the BMA has hired lawyers to investigate leaks from its GP Committee has understandably received a lot of criticism from GPs on social media, in the comments and among GPs I have spoken to.
I can’t really imagine what possessed them to take such action. Ironically, it was always going to leak. Furthermore, what would they do with the info when they did find the culprits? It all feels very ‘Gareth Keenan Investigates’ to me.
But more importantly, it actually has a negative effect on the BMA and what they are trying to do. I’ve heard a number of people rightly raise issues about the amount of members’ money that is being spent on this. Other GPs have spoken about leaving the organisation – including one in our comments section, who has put their resignation letter up in full.
Following on from the treatment of Dr Clare Sieber, who resigned after being pulled up for reporting on a GPC meeting, it does seem that the BMA have a problem with transparency. I was shocked this week to learn that trade journalists used to attend GPC meetings, but even in recent times, they used to have chats with the media following the meetings. I might be biased, but that seems like quite a good way of communicating with members.
Of course, you can understand wanting to keep negotiations around the contract more discreet. But this need for secrecy has pervaded all areas of the BMA’s work. The things that are being leaked now are things that would have been public previously, and normally information that GPs need to know.
What’s more, such secrecy and hardline attitude mean that anything that does come out of negotiations is viewed with a more critical line. The 2019 contract was heralded by GPC officers, but not by the grassroots. If you take on the attitude of ‘we are best working in the shadows’, you need to be damn sure you are producing.
I do have optimism that the new leadership understands this. Dr Farah Jameel’s statement about the current contract not being fit for purpose is a good start – even if the motion it addressed was a bit ‘vanilla’.
But they will do best if they are open with the membership. Even a jobsworth like Gareth can tell you that.
Jaimie Kaffash is editor of Pulse. Follow him on Twitter @jkaffash or email him at email@example.com