Demand for inquiry into handling of COVID

BMA consultants conference goes ahead online and addresses moral injury, occupational hazards and work backlogs

Location: UK
Published: Friday 11 June 2021
36011 andy thornley

It’s now almost a month since the BMA consultants conference took place online.

I have to confess to a degree of nervousness about how things would go. The BMA has run several online conferences in the past 12 months with varying degrees of success. The technical challenges of running a conference debating and voting on motions are quite significant.

The conference agenda committee and BMA staff put in significant work to make sure things ran smoothly. We worked closely with the platform provider Mod streaming and spent the best part of a day and a half running through how things would work. I hope this hard work paid dividends for those of you who were able to attend.

We debated 11 motions, far fewer than we would usually debate. One of the challenges for us was the inherent delay in streaming technology that means votes take part with a significant delay to allow those with a delay on their stream to vote. This seemed to work reasonably well but did leave Shanu Datta, my deputy with a little bit of quiet time to fill.

In terms of the motions debated we discussed and passed a motion calling for an open public inquiry into the handling of COVID-19. We also passed a motion calling for recognition of COVID-19 as an occupational disease for healthcare workers as well as recommending the use of respiratory protective equipment. In addition, conference recognised the phenomenon of moral injury to consultants from the work required during the pandemic and the pressures in dealing with the large clinical backlogs that many of us face.

After lunch we had a panel session with three invited guests: Dame Jane Dacre spoke on the gender pay gap, Prerana Issar, the NHS chief people officer spoke on valuing and retaining consultants and Harry Burns president of the BMA spoke on health inequalities. They then took questions submitted by the audience.

While it was an unusual experience chairing a conference online, things seemed to go well. I would like to thank all those involved in running conference this year. We have passed some useful policy for the BMA consultants committee for the next 12 months. I look forward to chairing conference, hopefully in person, next year.

Andy Thornley was chair of the 2021 BMA consultants conference and is a cardiologist working in the north east of England