Divisions consultation 2023

ARM 2023 marked the start of a consultation following motion 261 to create new local units.

My Division illustration

Your local BMA - Serving your needs better

We need to hear from you

Bringing the BMA closer to you at work

The BMA is consulting on the creation of new local units that improve the association’s ability to work as a trade union and professional association at a local level, ensuring all members and groups have a place where they fit, are supported and can contribute to the Association’s growth.

The proposals to establish new local structures to bring the BMA closer to members in their workplace follows ARM 2022 passing motion 261:

Motion by EAST MIDLANDS REGIONAL COUNCIL: That this meeting believes, given the high proportion of inactive and dormant divisions, it is no longer feasible for the division to be the foundation organisational unit of the BMA. We therefore mandate the organisation committee to develop a proposal for removing a reliance on divisions from the articles and byelaws of the Association whilst ensuring local support and organisation of members continues. This proposal must be brought to ARM 2023 for consideration.

The new units will replace divisions, the current local BMA structure, more than half of which are inactive or dormant. Your unit will be the local face of the BMA and determined by where you work rather than where you live (except for retired members).

The aims of these new units are:

  1. Primarily, the recognisable, well-known local face of the BMA.
  2. The local arm of the professional association, supporting members professionally and acting as a social, supportive network.
  3. Centred first around members’ workplaces then around wider communities (including those not currently working and currently studying).
  4. Able to identify and build responses to local issues, including through local collective action and directed bargaining (e.g.LNCs).
  5. Able to make policy for the BMA and hold the whole association to account.
  6. Well attended, active, effective, and well governed with clear lines of accountability and integration into regional councils, devolved nation councils and other regional and national structures.
  7. Appropriately resourced, with staffing and support from BMA centrally and regionally to carry out their roles.
  8. A welcoming place for all, free from all forms of discrimination, where constructive debate based upon ideas and not personhood is welcome.


We need your views

BMA members work and study in a diverse range of settings, specialisms and locations, with many retired. A ‘one size fits all’ approach won’t meet the needs of members, which is why we need your help to refine the proposed structures outlined below to ensure they are the effective local face of the BMA.

The expertise of currently active members in what works well in current structures is crucial as is input from members who are currently under or un-served by current structures.

Share your views on the proposed new structure:

Key areas of member expertise and guidance we need your input on:

  • The devolved nations have different health structures. Any solution must be co-created with members from those nations.
  • Places where the number of trusts/workplaces in a geographical area is such that it doesn’t make sense for each trust or workplace to have a dedicated local unit.
  • Places where mega-trusts exist, and more than one unit may be needed.
  • Our members in work situations outside traditional primary and secondary care, where the needs are different and specific but where for example member density and therefore the critical mass required to maintain an active unit could be problematic.
  • Our members in retirement whose contribution to BMA activities is highly valuable but who may no longer have workplace-based needs.


What the new local units could look like

Secondary care


It is proposed there would be up to a unit in every trust (excluding ambulance trusts) but this number could fall with local knowledge being applied in places where a combination of geography, number of trusts and member density means that joint units may be more appropriate.

In such situations there would be a required element of maintaining a separate presence in each trust with either a sub-unit or designated officer to continue to facilitate member’s contact with their individual employer.

The presence of such units in the workplace would be expected to add to, rather than detract from, the work of LNCs giving them a clear democratic mandate in their negotiations, accountability, as well as a route of recourse to local organising in the face of employer intransigence.

Devolved nations

It is proposed there would be a unit per health board (in Scotland or Wales) or health trust (in Northern Ireland) with sub-units per hospital or work site as appropriate.

It is likely that any individual work site with a significant concentration of members would require its own sub-unit, but local members should decide what that threshold is.

Channel Islands

A unit for Jersey and a unit for Guernsey and Alderney with sub-units per hospital.

Primary/community care


It is proposed that a unit is based around the geography of each of the Integrated Care Boards/ Systems (ICB/Ss) with the expectation that sub-units would be desirable particularly where large distances or population centres are involved.

Devolved nations

A unit would be based around the geography of each health Board/health trust with a similar expectation that there will be a need for sub-units.

Channel Islands

A unit for Jersey and a unit for Guernsey and Alderney.

These would fulfil functions for GP and community-based BMA members distinct from LMC functions: primarily local organising and union/industrial relations functions but also democratic, political and social functions at a manageable, functional level of geography.

Medical academia/medical schools

Per region/devolved nations units (11 English regions, 3 devolved nations so 14 units) of medical students with sub-units per medical School, and potentially sub-units for apprentices.

Per region/devolved nations units of medical academics with sub-units per medical school, and potentially other sub-units as needed for industry or other employers.

These units will have particular value in sharing best practice across medical schools in a region and collectively organising among students and academics (where appropriate together) to improve bad practice.

Public health, occupational medicine, armed forces and members categorised as other

A per region/devolved nations unit for those not employed primarily in one of the prior groups, with sub-units as determined by members. These would need to be flexible to meet member needs
e.g. armed forces members could not take part in overt industrial organising but would provide a base for election to/making policy via ARM and other BMA bodies.


Per region/devolved nations units of retired members defined, unlike other branches of practice, based upon their home address. These units will have vital social and political functions as well as collaborating with and supporting the units of members in work and training.

Special units

For members with specific, collective and potentially transitory needs, a facility to create additional units, examples may include:

  • Members who are resident medical officers
  • Members employed by agencies or outsourcing firms (e.g Capita)

These would need to be flexible (able to disperse when no longer needed, giving a voice to groups of members with specific issues but not overriding the need for grassroots policy from across the UK).

Primary and secondary units

Some members may need/wish to be able to be involved in more than their primary unit e.g. if they work for a secondary employer (such as in clinical academia, portfolio GP work, or in the armed forces) or are employed in a lead employer arrangement.


Next steps

The views of members, national councils, regional councils in England, divisions, branches of practice and staff will:

  • Inform the shape of the new local units
  • How they operate
  • How they relate to regional and national structures
  • The changes needed to the association’s articles and bye-laws These changes will then be brought back to ARM 2024 for approval.

Share your views: Complete the survey now.