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Writing a good motion

Policy motions are the life-blood of the BMA's democracy. They are the means by which ordinary members of the Association can influence and shape the policies and actions of the BMA through the branches of practice, division or regional council.

Each year hundreds of motions are received for debate by the BMA's Annual Representative Meeting and by the branch of practice conferences. With so many submitted only a fraction of them can be debated.

Each conference has an elected agenda committee tasked with setting the agenda and prioritising the issues and motions for debate.

Go to the BMA policy database

  • Motion writing tips

    Your motion is more likely to be chosen if it comes with a call for action that the Association or branch of practice can take forward. When writing your motion, make sure it is:

    • topical, accurate and concise
    • comprehensible and logical
    • likely to prompt good debate
    • in a subject area on which it is desirable for the BMA to develop or change policy

    Motions should be clear statements which essentially cover:

    • The problem which needs to be solved (welcomes, regrets, deplores, denounces)
    • The principle which underlies the solution (reaffirm, recognise, declare)
    • The proposal at the heart of the motion (affirms, believes, recommends, urges)
    • Start your motion with the words "That this conference..."

    Do

    • Choose issues which are topical and new and not a repeat of existing policy check the existing policy database before submitting any motion
    • Include a proposal of action as this is far more useful in shaping policy and therefore makes a better motion
    • Use sections if you have several clear calls for action. As each section is voted on separately this allows for motions which may contain a controversial element. Ensure that any subsections of a motion only deal with one point of principle and don't reference other subsections as they may be divided by the agenda committee
    • Be concise and clear - write in plain English, explain any abbreviations and try not to go above 150 words
    • Ask for help if you're struggling - the agenda committee can or specialty committee rep are there to assist you, so send through your ideas, drafts and questions - it's what they are there for
    • Be original - conferences need exciting, topical debates, even if your motion fails it can still offer the conference a valuable perspective

    Don't

    • Write long, verbose speeches or be repetitive, vague or didactic
    • Include quotations or actual sums of money both of which run the danger of being inaccurate and thus invalidating the motion
    • Include motions which are already policy
    • Submit a motion with more than three parts (excluding the stem) as these will very rarely be accepted. This is at agenda committee discretion and they can disallow motions
    • Be afraid to submit a motion. They are key to us developing and shaping BMA policy into the future
  • Sample motion

    See an example of a previous motion, to give you an idea of language and construction when writing your motion.

    "That this Conference notes with dismay the inability of the National Health Service to accommodate recent outbreaks of seasonal disorders, and the resulting threats to ongoing health provision for all citizens and calls upon the Government to redress this appalling situation by:

    i) Providing an immediate cash injection to underwrite an increase in high-dependency beds in all regions of the UK
    ii) Funding critical care training for enough nursing staff to support the additional high dependency beds
    iii) Guaranteeing to improve salaries, conditions and career prospects for nurses
    iv) Taking urgent measures to attract back nurses who have left the profession"

    or

    "That this conference is extremely concerned at the introduction of post-CCT fellowship posts and demands that these:

    i) have defined training objectives that genuinely cannot be provided within CCT
    ii) be created only to meet a proven and unmet need for consultants with particular sub-specialist skills
    iii) be without service commitment
    iv) not continue beyond 2010"

  • Submitting your motion

    Submitting your motion can vary. Read our general guide on how to submit your motion to the various BMA conferences for consideration.

    Be aware that motion deadlines occur approximately two to three months previous to conferences taking place.

    • Annual Representative Meeting: Motions can be submitted by any body or group of members entitled to elect or appoint a representative or representatives to the representative body ie – Divisions, regional councils, the nations, some committees approved by council, Hon Secs conference, RMC, JMF (Members may also submit motions to their BoP conferences. BoP motions will be considered for the ARM agenda by the Joint Agenda Committee). The deadline for 2018 ARM motions is 9am Friday 6 April. Late motions are never accepted.

     

  • Motion advisory service

    We've set up a motion advisory service to help to get involved with creating BMA policy.

    This service provides advice, facts and figures or information on existing policy, plus can help you submit your motion correctly for consideration.

    Please include your name, membership number, branch of practice and nation when contacting us, so we can respond to your enquiry as soon as possible.

    Email the motion advisory service