This month BMA members will participate in our most significant and far-reaching democratic exercise – voting for their fellow members to join BMA council.
I’m hugely proud these elections have seen a record number of nominees – a sign of a healthy democracy and a positive sign of engagement from our activist base which is a blend of new and more familiar faces.
These nominees are putting themselves forward to contest up to 69 voting council seats and will see successful candidates awarded the privilege and responsibility of representing the views and needs of thousands of their colleagues in the next four years on the BMA’s principle executive committee.
As with any trade union or professional organisation, advocating effectively on behalf of our membership is the BMA’s raison d’etre. We are only as strong as our members and it’s more vital than ever for us to have a BMA council strongly mandated by the membership to drive the future direction of the association.
It is for this reason, therefore, that I would strongly encourage all BMA members to use their votes and not let them go to waste in the coming weeks.
For this upcoming election we’ve learnt lessons from previous elections both in the process members have to undertake as well as the make-up of BMA council.
Members will receive one voting paper for the BMA council election rather than several, but because of trade union law we are still required to conduct this election via post. This means you must return your completed voting paper to our independent election scrutineer, Civca Election Services using the pre-paid envelope contained in your ballot pack.
Ballot packs containing your voting paper, a booklet of candidate statements along with a pre-paid return envelope are being sent to members’ addresses from 16 March.
To help you navigate your way through the voting process we will be providing guidance and materials including a digital tool enabling members to view information on candidates by different voting categories, such as region and branch of practice as well as FAQs. All of this is available on this BMA elections hubpage.
The make-up of the new council is also changing. As an association, we often talk about the importance of the NHS’s culturally diverse workforce and the need for the health service to reflect the society it serves, and this ideal should apply equally to the BMA if it is to reflect the needs of the modern medical profession.
For that reason, this year’s elections will for the first time see five seats on council for UK candidates self-identifying as ethic minority.
This year’s election will also see stronger representation at regional level, with UK-wide seats replaced with positions across all devolved nations and English regions.
In addition, across seats that are allocated to various branch of practices such as consultants, GPs, junior doctors and medical students, are designed to prevent representatives elected to these positions being exclusively from a single gender.
The election will use the single transferable vote method meaning that candidates must be ranked in numerical order by preference rather than with a single cross.
In this way, we hope the outcome of this year’s poll will accurately reflect and account for the views of you the voters.
Ballots will be dispatched from 16 March, with voting open until 5pm on 19 April and election results announced towards the end of April.
This is your chance to vote for who you want to represent you on the BMA’s principal executive committee for the next four years, setting the agenda for the BMA in a period of uncertainty and change for the profession.
When you receive your ballot in the coming days take the time to select your preferred candidates – your vote counts.
Tom Grinyer is chief executive and returning officer