BMA governance

Find out about the BMA’s leadership and decision-making structure, from local, regional and branch of practice committees to national councils, the representative body and board of directors.

Location: UK
Updated: Monday 19 February 2024
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We are a democratic and open organisation.

Doctors in local, regional and national forums play a key role in creating our policies.


BMA councils

UK council, Scottish council, Welsh council and Northern Ireland council are the principal executive committees of the trade union function of the BMA.

They set our strategic direction, with policies established by the RB (representative body), and are governed by trade union legislation.

The council’s role is to:

  • delegate the implementation of BMA policy – although it can determine the timing and coordination of policy
  • resolve disputes between other BMA bodies
  • authorise industrial action
  • formulate policy between ARM events where none exists
  • put forward proposals for new BMA articles and by-laws, and amend or repeal existing ones
  • call extraordinary meetings.

UK council comprises four BMA chief officers – chair, treasurer, chair of the RB and BMA president – and 58 to 74 elected voting members.

Non-voting seats are held by committee chairs and ex officio members.

Read more about our councils


The Representative body and ARM

The RB (Representative body) meets once a year at the ARM (Annual Representative Meeting), and is the BMA’s main policy-making function.

When a motion is passed by the RB, it becomes BMA policy.

The ARM’s purpose is to:

  • form the policy of the organisation
  • elect representatives to roles and committees
  • propose changes to BMA articles and by-laws.

It consists of representatives from all divisions and branches of practice, regional and national councils, and is governed by BMA articles and by-laws.

Motions passed at the ARM are handed to council to either implement or pass to another part of the BMA, such as a branch of practice committee, to implement.


Branch of practice committees

Branch of practice committees represent all doctors in the UK – whether they are BMA members or not – to governments, national assemblies and organisations including royal colleges and education bodies.

They are officially recognised in national negotiations for NHS doctors, and by the DDRB.

They report to UK council, share members with regional committees, and hold annual conferences.

They are the:

  • armed forces committee (AFC)
  • civil and public services committee (CPSC)
  • consultants committee (CC)
  • forensic medicine and secure environments committee (FSEC)
  • junior doctors committee (JDC)
  • GPs committee (GPC)
  • medical academic staff committee (MASC)
  • medical students committee (MSC)
  • occupational medicine committee (OMC)
  • public health medicine committee (PHC)
  • retired members committee (RMC)
  • staff, associate specialist and specialty doctors committee (SASC).

Some have subcommittees, eg the Women in Academic Medicine group advises MASC on actions that would enhance the position of women in the field, and GPC has sessional GPs and GP trainees subcommittees.

There are equivalent committees in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, which share members with the UK branch of practice committees, and provide reports to their national councils.


Professional activities and special interest committees

These committees represent the interests of doctors and patients across a range of professional activities and special interests, including:

  • the board of science
  • community care
  • international
  • the junior members forum
  • medical ethics
  • medico-legal
  • patient liaison group
  • pensions
  • private practice
  • professional fees
  • medical managers.

They provide reports and members to UK council, and share members with the branch of practice committees.


Regional representation

Regional councils in England are forums to discuss matters of regional interest and issues affecting the profession across all branches of practice.

Each regional council has up to 25 voting seats, elected by BMA members whose registered address is in that area, including UK council members from the region.

They report to UK council and can send motions and representatives to the ARM.

There are also regional junior doctors, consultants and SAS doctors committees in England, regional junior doctors committees in the devolved nations, and a GPs committee for England. They discuss issues affecting those branches of practice in their regions, and send reports and members to their regional councils and UK branch of practice committees.


Local representation


BMA divisions represent members in all disciplines and branches of practice in their local areas. Every UK member belongs to one of the 180 divisions, and each division can submit motions for debate and send representatives to the ARM.

Local negotiating committees

Each trust and health board has a LNC (local negotiating committee). 

A LNC is a committee of elected local representatives who have the authority to make collective agreements with local management, on behalf of medical and dental staff of all grades. These agreements can become an incorporated term in the contracts of those staff.

Membership of the LNC must be open to representatives of all branches of practice employed by the organisation. It will also include a BMA industrial relations officer and, where salaried GPs are represented, an local medical committee representative.

In each devolved nation and region of England, LNC members attend LNC forums, which in turn feed into the regional or devolved nation councils.

Become a LNC representative

Local medical committees

LMCs (local medical committees) are committees of NHS GPs, representing the interests of all GPs in their areas to NHS authorities.

They work with, and through, the BMA GP committees and local specialist medical committees in various ways, including conferences.

For consultants in the devolved nations, area consultants committees discuss local matters and send representatives to their national consultants committees.

For medical students, every medical school in the UK elects a representative to the medical students committee for a year. They can also sit on devolved nations’ medical students committees and other UK committees or boards.


Board of directors

The board is responsible for the management of the finances and general administration of the BMA. It ensures the implementation of the strategic and operational objectives and resolutions made by council.

The board directs the activities of the BMA and BMJ group, according to Companies Act legislation.

Its role is to:

  • manage finances and monitor business performance
  • oversee staff and services
  • manage reputational risk, own and review the risk register and take action to mitigate risks
  • set organisational strategy and structure, in line with council policy and BMA articles and by-laws.

There are 12 members - three elected members from UK council, four chief officers (council chair, deputy council chair, treasurer and chair of the RB), the chief executive, the group chief financial officer, two lay members and the chair of the BMJ.

For the 2023–2024 sessions, they are:

  • Dr Philip Banfield, council chair (and chair of the board)
  • Dr Trevor Pickersgill, treasurer (and deputy chair of the board)
  • Dr Latifa Patel, representative body chair
  • Dr Emma Runswick, deputy council chair
  • Mrs Neeta Major, co-chief executive officer / group chief financial officer
  • Ms Rachel Podolak, co-chief executive officer
  • Dr Krishan Aggarwal, council member
  • Dr Alex Freeman, council member
  • Mrs Cathy Mayor, lay member
  • Mrs Elisa Nardi, lay member
  • Dr Vish Sharma, council member
  • Mr Peter Vicary-Smith - BMJ chair

Meeting dates for the 2023–24 session:

  • Wednesday 18 October 2023
  • Wednesday 13 December 2023
  • Wednesday 21 February 2024
  • Wednesday 17 April 2024
  • Wednesday 19 June 2024

Delegated authority 

The Board delegates some of its authority to the finance committee, the audit and risk committee and the remuneration committee. 

BMA finance committee 

The finance committee is responsible for decisions on matters affecting the finances of the BMA and reports to the board on such matters.

The committee is made up of seven members elected by council, four chief officers (council chair, deputy council chair, treasurer and chair of the RB), the chief executive, the group chief financial officer, and two lay members, (one of whom is not on the board and is elected by council).

BMA audit and risk committee

The audit and risk committee is appointed by council and reports regularly to the board, and annually to council via an annual report.

Its main role is to monitor the implementation and the effectiveness of the governance structure, including the internal control framework and risk management processes.

The committee is composed of five members appointed by council as follows:

  • one must be a member of Council
  • at least one and not more than two should be lay members with an appropriate level of management experience in an organisation of a greater, or a similar, size to the BMA
  • one member should be a BMJ non-executive
  • the remainder of the members shall be BMA members who may or may not be members of council.

BMA remuneration committee

The remuneration committee is responsible for designing, adjusting and maintaining BMA systems for making payments to members including lay members (excluding payments to reimburse expenses).

The committee reports to the finance committee and the board of directors. It is made up of seven members: 

  • five members elected annually – three via ARM and two by council.
  • one lay member appointed by council upon the recommendation of the audit and risk committee
  • the group chief financial officer.


Get in touch

If you have any questions relating to the Board of Directors, please contact [email protected]