About the BMA

The BMA is the trade union and professional body for doctors in the UK. Find out about the organisation, its mission, vision, values and code of conduct.

Location: UK
Updated: Monday 7 December 2020
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The British Medical Association (BMA) is a trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors and medical students in the UK.

A leading voice advocating for outstanding healthcare and a healthy population.

An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.


Our mission, vision and values

Our mission

We look after doctors so they can look after you.

Our vision

A profession of valued doctors delivering the highest quality health services, where all doctors…

  • have strong representation and expert guidance, whenever they need it
  • have their individual needs responded to, through career-long support and professional development
  • are championed by the BMA and their voices are sought, heard and acted upon
  • can connect with each other as a professional community
  • can influence the advancement of health and the profession.

Our values

  • Expert - we are an indispensable source of credible information, guidance and support throughout doctors’ professional lives.
  • Committed - we are committed to all doctors and place them at the heart of every decision we make.
  • Reliable - we are doctors’ first port of call because we are trusted and dependable.
  • Challenging - we are unafraid to challenge effectively on behalf of all doctors.
  • Leading - we are an influential leader in supporting the profession and improving the health of the UK.


Our duties as a trade union

As a trade union for doctors in the UK, the BMA is formally recognised for collective bargaining purposes at national and local levels. We represent doctors both individually and collectively, negotiating your pay and rights, and supporting you at work.

We are officially recognised by government and the DDRB (the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration) as an association representing the views of GPs in the health service and NHS doctors in hospitals, public health and community services, employed under national agreements.

We are also one of only two organisations to give evidence to the Armed Forces’ Pay Review Body.

In 1971 we were registered as an independent trade union, and we’re currently included on the list of trade unions maintained by the Certification Officer in accordance with the Trade Union and Labour Relations (Consolidation) Act 1992.


How we negotiate

The BMA is recognised for collective bargaining purposes, so we and our representatives benefit from legislative rights, including those relating to:

  • the provision of information
  • the right to be consulted on proposed changes
  • representation of members, individually and collectively
  • facilities and time off work for accredited representatives.

Members play an integral part in our process decision making process.

Read more about our democratic structure and governance

​National negotiations

We have bargaining rights in respect of all employed doctors in the NHS, whether or not they are BMA members. Members and officers of our branch of practice committees sit on joint negotiating committees, and produce guidance on the implementation of national agreements.

We are in continual contact with ministers, government departments, members of both Parliaments, the National Assemblies and many other influential bodies. Through these contacts and the media we promote doctors’ views and campaign on health issues.

National pay scales for medical staff employed in the NHS are determined by ministers in light of recommendations from the DDRB. Each year we submit evidence to the review body. Other NHS conditions of service are agreed between the Departments of Health and the BMA.

Workplace and local negotiations

Until NHS trusts were established in 1991, all NHS-employed medical staff were subject to national terms and conditions of service. Now, however, most NHS employers can determine the pay and conditions of service for all their staff, except doctors in training who remain subject to nationally negotiated terms and conditions. As a response to this local freedom, we introduced local negotiating committees (LNCs).

Employers are obliged to consult with and provide information to recognised trade unions and this is often through the local representative.

LNCs are now established in almost all NHS organisations that employ doctors. They meet regularly to identify issues for negotiation with local management, monitor the application of local agreements, and agree and monitor arrangements for the implementation of national agreements in their organisations.

We accredit members to act as local representatives for a particular geographic location or branch of practice within employing organisations.

LNCs also usually nominate BMA representatives for other joint committees (such as the Joint Medical Consultative Council or health and safety committees), and work with other trade unions in areas of common interest.

Advice and representation for BMA members is provided by our team of advisers and member relations staff across the UK.


Industrial action

The ultimate sanction available to employees in dispute with their employer is to take industrial action.

To comply with industrial relations legislation and protect our position, certain important requirements – eg in relation to ballots – have to be met, and the BMA’s bye-laws carefully and clearly set out the manner in which such procedures might be authorised.

The idea of taking such action is a difficult one for many doctors, but experience shows that medical staff, acting together in the best tradition of trade unionism, remain a powerful and influential force through which a great deal can be achieved both nationally and locally.


Our code of conduct

The BMA welcomes open debate and free exchange of ideas.

We are committed to creating a culture that is inclusive of all members. We want every member to feel able to contribute, knowing that their points of view will be valued and differences of opinion will be respected.

Our code of conduct provides guidance on expected behaviour and sets out the standards of conduct that support our values in the work we do.