It was my honour to chair the BMA’s first ever hybrid annual representative meeting – and the feedback I have received since has really vindicated all the hard work that so many people, elected members and staff, have put in over the last nine months in making this event happen.
I am so proud to have seen members and staff attending virtually and physically being able to participate more accessibly than ever – whether through debating, voting, commenting on proceedings or supporting the meeting.
While the virtual aspects of this year’s hybrid ARM were great, it was also brilliant to be back in person. We have all been through an incredibly tough period of time – it has been difficult for members and for colleagues and staff at the BMA – and it was brilliant to be able to meet people, say thank you, and to listen to what members and representatives have to say. For me, that is what my role is all about. And that interaction is what so many of us have missed.
We were finally able to hand out awards and honours to members and staff who have served the association and our profession. We were able to remember those we have lost in these last years, together.
I have now been elected chair of the representative body for the next three years and will do everything in my power to take all the achievements of this year’s ARM and build on those successes – making our ARM the most inclusive, accessible and efficient policy-forming event it can be.
During the three days of the event in Brighton your elected representatives voted on policy democratically. And now elected members and BMA staff will get on with delivering on those motions – whether actions are required around terms and conditions of service, pay restoration, patient care, considering industrial action, or public health, among so many other areas.
All that work will be driven by the BMA in the coming 12 months. Where policy is not completed it will remain in the policy book – and thus remain a BMA priority – until it is completed. That is democracy in action. You will be able to assess progress when, at the next ARM, our document of policies is released.
While this year’s ARM is only just behind us, my thoughts have already turned to my role for the coming months and, ultimately, to next year’s event which will be held in Liverpool from 3 to 5 July.
While the deadline for next year’s motions will be in April 2023 – and that might seem like a long way away – there has never been a better time for you to get involved, to have your say and to consider stepping up to be a representative of the profession.
If you are already considering writing motions for next year’s ARM then you can receive support by emailing [email protected].
In the coming months there will be elections for positions at local and national levels, with the elections for regional branch of practice committees all taking place in the near future. And there will also be opportunities to get involved in divisions and regional councils.
I am keen to see more elected members from groups we under-represent: women, members with disabilities and long-term conditions, ethnic minority colleagues and colleagues who identify as LGBTQ+.
If you don’t want to stand for an elected role there are other ways to have an influence, too. As always, social media is a great tool for sharing your thoughts and you can receive newsletters relating to all of the activities of your relevant committee/s, including how policy from the 2022 ARM is being actioned simply by signing into your account on the BMA website and setting your preferences.
Our BMA can only be the best voice for members – medical students and doctors working on the front line – if we hear from as many people as possible. Whatever your reflections, your experiences or your ideas I want you to know that your voice matters.
Dr Latifa Patel is chair of the BMA representative body