Six highlights you might have missed at ARM 2017
The recent BMA annual representatives meeting brought together 500 doctors to debate key issues facing their profession.
Some hit the headlines. But with a packed agenda, there were many more examples of powerful and inspiring speeches and sessions that didn’t. Here are six of the most memorable.
Speaking out on bullying
Bullying, harassment and stress have repeatedly affected Scotland SAS doctors committee chair Bethany Threlfall’s long career in medicine.
In an emotive speech, she called on delegates to support motion 88. This asked the BMA to make Respect at Work, a BMA Scotland support service for doctors who’ve experienced bullying, available across the UK.
Dr Threlfall’s speech opened up a wider discussion on bullying in the medical profession, including important research from BMA Wales, presented by BMA Welsh council member Rajnesh Nirula.
As a result of these speeches, motion 88 was passed unanimously. It’s a move that could help hundreds of doctors.
No exceptions for exception reporting
Colonel Glynn Evans is chair of the BMA armed forces committee. He’s also a guardian of safe working for 500 junior doctors, and has seen first-hand how new exception reporting systems can improve working lives.
In support of motion 124, he told delegates that while exception reporting is vital, guardians like him must get the time they need to successfully fulfil their roles.
Drawing on his own experiences as a guardian allowed Colonel Evans to advocate for the needs of consultants, while acknowledging the huge importance of exception reporting for junior doctors.
#ARM2017 Glynn Evans great speech on Guardians working good utilisation of time,Exception reporting works for our trainees but it takes TIME— Wayne Sturley (@WayneSturley) June 29, 2017
His speech was one of many examples at the ARM of different branches of practice coming together to discuss work that affects them all - and strengthening the profession as a result.
Inspiring future doctors
Doctors weren’t the only guests at this year’s ARM. Eighty aspiring young medics from local schools also visited, meeting with doctors and medical students to find out what a medical career is really like.
Will being let loose with stethoscopes, blood pressure monitors and a giant game of ‘Operation’ inspire these young people to become the doctors of tomorrow?
Only time will tell – but what’s certain is that the doctors who gave up their lunchtime to volunteer helped make the session one of the most inspiring and innovative at this year’s conference.
Protecting patient data
Immigration and access to healthcare can be contentious topics. But how do these issues affect doctors and their patients on the ground?
Junior doctor Simarpreet Marwaha threw the question into sharp focus in her strong support for motion 71. This called on the BMA to deplore the sharing of confidential patient data with immigration officials, for fear it would dissuade vulnerable patients from seeking care.
In politics, the voices of excluded and isolated people are often left unheard. At the ARM, however, Dr Marwaha was able to ensure patients’ needs were at the heart of the debate - and of future BMA policy.
No place for mental health stigma
Motion 65 called on delegates to urgently address the stigma surrounding mental health in the medical profession.
One of the most persuasive speakers for the motion was medical students committee member Eleanor Price. Speaking about her own struggles with mental health problems, she told delegates how prejudice has already affected her career.
In just two minutes, her speech brought the experiences of mental health patients, including medical students and doctors themselves, to the fore - and won unanimous support for the motion.
That’s an outcome that can only come from being courageous enough to share your own lived experience with your colleagues. It doesn’t happen often, but it does happen at the ARM.
How to tackle a crisis
On the last day of the conference, two opposing but equally powerful speeches highlighted the funding crisis in general practice.
Speaking for motion 362, BMA council deputy chair David Wrigley called on delegates to oppose charges for patients to see their GP or for missed appointments.
Speaking against it, Dr Rachel McMahon stressed the huge funding challenges that face practices and asked delegates to allow charges to at least be considered, even if other solutions might be preferable.
The motion was eventually passed, and although they disagreed, this is what the ARM is all about - whatever their views, it’s a platform for doctors to speak up on the issues that matter.
Add your voice
What issues make you want to stand up and make people listen? How do you think the BMA could better help doctors and their patients?
The ARM is your opportunity to influence BMA policy. Find out more about joining your relevant BMA committee and participating in next year’s event.
Editor - Lisa Hansson
Multimedia producer - Mary-Laine Friday
Senior digital content producer - Eleanor Dean
Senior multimedia producer - Matt Saywell
Social media manager - Jon Hinchmore
Photography - Emma Brown, Sarah Turton
With thanks to - Dr Bethany Threlfall, Mr Rajnesh Nirula, Colonel Glynn Evans, Dr Pali Hungin, Highcliffe School, Dr Simarpreet Marwaha, Eleanor Price, Dr David Wrigley, Dr Rachel McMahon and Dr Anthea Mowat.