BMA defends right to represent civilian doctors

by Tim Tonkin

The BMA has defended its right to act as the trade union for civilian doctors working in the armed forces following a historic legal challenge.

Location: UK
Published: Tuesday 5 May 2020
BMA in the news Illustration

The association has succeeded in its bid to represent civilian doctors in the military after a decision by the CAC (Central Arbitration Committee) yesterday.

Despite having negotiated on behalf of this group of  doctors for many years, the BMA was last year forced to go to the CAC, which arbitrates disputes relating to the statutory recognition of trade unions, following two refusals by the MoD (Ministry of Defence) to formally recognise the BMA’s status.

The ruling means civilian doctors working in the military will continue to be fully represented by the BMA and be able to benefit from the full rights afforded by trade union membership.

BMA armed forces committee member Sarah Hollis (pictured) expressed her delight at the decision to confirm trade union representation to civilian doctors in the armed forces, describing it as ‘an important victory for the BMA and for our members’.

She said: ‘The BMA has a long history of negotiating on behalf of civilian doctors working for the MoD and in January 2018 the BMA received verbal agreement from the MoD that it was the recognised union for civilian doctors employed by the MoD.

‘We were therefore disappointed that during 2018 and 2019 the MoD refused several requests to confirm recognition of the BMA as the trade union for civilian doctors working for the MoD.

‘The BMA was therefore forced to submit an application to the CAC in September 2019 for statutory recognition and since then the BMA armed forces committee has been working tirelessly with colleagues from across the BMA to achieve this outcome for civilian doctors.

She added: ‘This is an important victory for the BMA and for our members, reflecting our commitment to continuing to negotiate and fight for better terms and working conditions on behalf of all doctors. We look forward to continuing to represent our civilian doctors in the armed forces and working with the MoD in the future.’

Read the CAC’s decision