The BMA 2022 annual representative meeting takes place later this month – and I don’t think there has ever been a more important time for doctors to come together, get involved and be the strong voice our profession, NHS and society need.
Your ARM is our main policy forming body. In total, 550 members of our profession – medical students and doctors – who were elected to represent their colleagues will be in attendance, voting on policy concerning the most important issues facing our profession.
Between those 550 members all four nations are represented, the length and breadth of the UK is covered and we have doctors from every part of our profession – every specialty and level of progression from medical students right through to senior consultants, GPs and academics. These 550 people have been elected through conferences, divisions, branches of practice and regional councils and I believe you can be confident there will be people doing their best to represent you.
However, if you’re not in the room that doesn’t mean you can’t be involved. You can still have a voice. You can still influence policy. You still help to challenge your BMA and change our direction. I would encourage anyone who can to watch live – there will, as usual, be a live stream available on the BMA website.
It is important the profession hears the discussion and the debate so we can all understand both sides of each argument. If you are following at home or work you can use social media – Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, Reddit, whichever is your favoured method of communication – to make your voice heard. Our hashtag for this ARM will be #ARM2022
Your representatives are always keen to hear from you. You can go straight to your branch of practice representatives with your views. And if you are able to get involved more I would urge you to think about trying to become a representative in future years. Visit bma.org.uk/become-a-representative
The BMA is dictated to by policy set at ARM, other conferences or by our council. The BMA’s job is then to make this policy become reality. It can be through internal projects, surveys, lobbying or working with stakeholders and government.
Policy set at events such as the ARM can change our working lives, influence the Government and national NHS leaders and I know first-hand the things we say when we stand up to speak for or against a motion are heard.
Our agenda is packed full of defining issues for our profession and our society. We will be discussing the pandemic response, how the workforce will deal with the backlog, core terms and conditions for doctors, pay restoration, pensions, doctors’ safety and moral injury. We will also be scrutinising the health and social care bill and holding the GMC to account.
As well as looking across our profession, our NHS and our society we will also look inwardly. We will be making decisions about how the BMA can change internally to serve members better.
This includes looking at where we’ve gone wrong in the past – for example in not representing minority groups, women, doctors from minority ethnic backgrounds and IMGs (international medical graduates), among others, as well as we could have done.
We also have sessions looking at ethics and international issues and we will discuss Ukraine. High on this year’s agenda will be the situation with recent legislative change regarding asylum seekers and refugees and how we can value IMGs better.
Our union is 163,500 members strong. We are a powerful voice for better for our profession, for our health service and for our society. To wield that strength as best we can we need to be the most representative voice of all members that we possibly can be.
It is so important that you get involved if you feel you have something to say. Please do use all the methods I’ve outlined or contact me directly if you have something to say at [email protected]
I look forward to hearing from you.
Dr Latifa Patel is interim chair of the BMA representative body