Doctors speak out against sexism and racism at the British Medical Association

Doctors condemn sexism and racism at the British Medical Association as leaked emails claim leading female union figure was branded ‘naughty’ and ‘irritable’ in internal emails

  • Doctors say union fails to ‘value and support’ female and minority members
  • In a vote, doctors asked the BMA to produce an annual report on discrimination
  • It comes as leaked emails showed sexist treatment of senior BMA official

British doctors have criticized their own union, the British Medical Association, for being sexist and racist.

At their annual meeting in Brighton yesterday, members passed a motion that the union ‘did not value and support female members and members of minority groups including BAME, IMG (international medical graduates) and locum physicians.

Doctors also asked the BMA to produce an annual report showing how it was working to tackle discrimination against women and minority doctors.

The vote came as leaked internal emails revealed the union’s first female leader, Dr Farah Jameel, was described as ‘naughty’ and ‘irritating’.

She became the first woman to chair the BMA’s 100-year-old GP-specific committee when she was elected last November.

But Dr. Jameel was forced to take time off in March, in part because of the committee’s toxic culture.

In leaked emails to a trade magazine, she said she suffered repeated ‘micro-aggressions’ from other BMA figures, including being kicked out of meetings and called ‘naughty’ and ‘irritating’ “.

In a blocking vote, doctors condemned the British Medical Association’s inaction in the face of sexism and discrimination within its ranks. The union has been hit with new allegations of sexist behavior over the treatment of the union’s first female generalist committee leader, Dr Farah Jameel.

GPs vote for industrial action over NHS contract requiring them to see patients on Saturdays and weeknights

GPs have voted to take industrial action over an NHS contract which requires them to offer appointments on Saturdays and until 8pm on weekdays.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA), who met in Brighton yesterday, called on their union to ‘formally organize opposition’ to the deal, including ‘industrial action if necessary’.

Family doctors have urged medics to ‘channel our inner Mick Lynch’, the railroad union leader behind last week’s disruptive rail strikes that crippled the country.

Although GPs are unlikely to stop providing urgent care, they could refuse to do other routine work or cut their hours.

It comes just a day after doctors voted for the BMA to lobby ministers for a whopping 30 per cent pay rise to compensate for ‘millions’ in lost income since 2008.

Doctors yesterday claimed they were ready to join ‘picket lines’ to meet their demands and admitted industrial action was ‘likely’.

The BMA, which said it was already investigating Dr Jameel’s treatment, is no stranger to accusations of sexist behavior.

In 2019, the union released an independent report after two female doctors claimed they had been subjected to sexism and sexual harassment by BMA officials.

Daphne Romney’s report found the ‘toxic’ BMA had an ‘old boys club culture’ which treated women ‘as less important and less capable’.

The female doctors said they were called “dumb girls” and experienced sexual harassment and bullying, he found.

However, progress in implementing the report’s recommendations has been criticized as too slow in the two years since its publication.

During yesterday’s debate, medical student Marguerite O’Riordan said: ‘The implicit message this level of inaction sends is that discrimination is a problem but… not enough of a problem to actually take action, which is inherently disrespectful.”

Dr Alexandra Freeman, a GP who gave evidence in the Romney inquiry, said systemic sexism within the BMA amounted to “domestic violence”.

“I likened it to a domestic violence situation, where it’s hidden behind closed doors and the victims feel responsible for their own actions,” she said.

In his outgoing speech as Chairman of the BMA Council on Monday, Dr Chaand Nagpaul admitted that the BMA was not where it needed to be on the issue of sexism.

He said that although changes had been made, only 38% of elected BMA council members were women “just an increase” from four years ago, and he also pointed out that no women did not run in the next elections for the presidency of the council.

In other BMA news, GPs yesterday voted to take industrial action over an NHS contract requiring them to offer appointments on Saturdays and until 8pm on weekdays.

They asked their union to “formally organize an opposition” to the agreement, including “industrial action if necessary”.

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Andrew B. Reiter