A year like no other – the BMA ARM

by Helena McKeown

The annual representative meeting may only be one day this year but the issues on the table are more important than ever before

Location: UK
Published: Wednesday 12 August 2020
helena mckeown

We are now less than five weeks away from this year’s annual representative meeting.

Unlike previous meetings, where more than 100 debates have taken place across four days, the virtual event on 15 September will be significantly different owing to our clinical workloads and the restrictions imposed on us by COVID-19.

Yet this does not make this year’s event any less important. In fact, given the effect of coronavirus on doctors, patients and the wider NHS, it has never been more important for doctors to be given a voice on the issues they face and for the BMA to act.

As the agenda published today makes clear, COVID-19 has been at the forefront of colleagues’ minds when submitting motions. As in previous years the agenda committee received hundreds of proposed motions from divisions, regional and national councils and branch-of-practice committees. With the ARM limited to just one day this year, the agenda committee has had to work extra hard to prioritise just 12 motions that will be debated.

As you would expect, COVID-19 is the focus of a number of these, with calls for:

  • A public inquiry into the Government’s management of the COVID-19 pandemic
  • The temporary changes to job plans, working patterns and deployments cease with a return to pre-COVID-19 contractual requirements and job plans and that all doctors are adequately remunerated for additional work done during the COVID-19 pandemic
  • A Government review of the fitness for purpose of the UK’s current health-protection systems
  • Increased funding for public health to tackle ethnic, geographic and gender inequalities in the UK.

Coronavirus is not the only issue members want debated. As well as the pandemic we will be: discussing the latest pay rise for doctors; the home use of mifepristone with remote consultation support for abortion; calls to allow transgender and non-binary individuals to gain legal recognition of their gender by witnessed and sworn statement; the potential effect of a trade deal between the USA and the UK, and the possible negative effect of digital consulting on those most in need of care.

As well as the 12 motions up for debate, the ARM will also feature: the keynote speech from BMA council chair Chaand Nagpaul; an update on the association’s finances from BMA treasurer Trevor Pickersgill; and will see new BMA president Harry Burns installed for the upcoming year. In addition, a new section has been added to the agenda – an ‘open-mic’ debate with an expert panel entitled Learning lessons from Covid-19: embedding equalities and inclusion in healthcare delivery and work practices’.

So, while this year’s ARM will be different the issues we will discuss remain just as important. You can get involved too either through watching the event live online (details on how to join will be released closer to the date) or following on social media using the hashtag #ARM2020

You can find out more about this year’s ARM including the agenda, update on elections and how to enter this year’s photo competition on the BMA website.