Taking part in a committee

Resources for both new and experienced committee members, and advice for those thinking about joining a BMA committee.

Location: UK
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Wednesday 13 January 2021
Voting card article illustration

Joining a committee

Members are at the heart of the BMA. Our elected members, supported by expert staff, play an important part in all our work.

As an elected representative – whether you are a council or committee member, or you perform other functions – you will have a vital role in representing doctors’ interests and ensuring their voices are heard, nationally, locally and in the workplace.


Thinking of joining a BMA committee?

You could be involved in contract negotiations, influencing BMA policy making, representing your branch of practice or specialty, helping to make doctors' voices heard and working lives better, and developing your own medico-political and leadership skills.

As a committee member, you can claim expenses and honoraria, and we’ll arrange care for children and dependants so you can attend meetings. 

If you’d like to see what it’s like before standing for election, the BMA runs a committee visitor scheme – you can attend meetings and take part in discussions, as if you were a committee member.


How to stand for election

There are a few routes to becoming an elected member – through regional elections, elections at branch of practice conferences and at the ARM (annual representative meeting).

Make sure you understand the work of the committee, the roles and skills you’ll need to demonstrate, and the voting system – see the role profiles below and find out more about committee elections.

Find out about the different committees and contact the secretariat for information about the election timetable.

As a BMA member, we’ll let you know about upcoming elections by email, in newsletters, and on the committee elections page.


What to expect as a committee member

There’s a lot to learn when you join a committee, and some of it can seem daunting and formal at first. As well as getting to know your fellow committee members, understanding BMA structures and how to work with BMA staff, there are some technical terms and processes to get to grips with. For example, committee standing orders and the rules on debating and points of order.

You will be expected to:

  • abide by the BMA principles and code of conduct
  • prepare for meetings so you can contribute to debates. Depending on the committee and your expertise, you may be invited to lead or give your views on a particular issue
  • report back to those you represent, and feed their views through to the committee
  • raise the profile of the BMA, your committee and your specialty or grade
  • help the committee prioritise and plan its work
  • influence the development of BMA policy and negotiating strategies.

Reflecting the views of your colleagues, raising the profile of your specialty and influencing the direction of the profession are hugely rewarding, which is why many members seek office.


Support from the BMA

The BMA will help you settle in and develop your medico-political and leadership skills. You will receive comprehensive information and an induction at your first meeting. You will also have the opportunity to enrol on a mentoring programme, a valuing difference programme and leadership programmes.

At the end of a session, we can provide a summary of the work you have done, which you can add to your portfolio.


Committee role profiles

Committee/council member: the wide-ranging responsibilities of a member of a committee or council require the ability to maintain a broad overview while responding quickly to changing situations.

Chair: demonstrating a high level of ability to build, develop and motivate effective teams, the chair needs to empower individuals while ensuring the whole committee follows objectives and strategic business plans – it's a complex but satisfying challenge.

Deputy chair: influencing, leading, communicating and working collaboratively are key in this role. You will work alongside and support the chair to ensure the committee functions effectively.

Honorary secretary: this role on BMA regional committees and BMA council assists the chair or deputy chair to have a strategic role in representing the vision and purpose of the BMA. By providing support you’ll help the committee to function properly and ensure records are kept of all decisions and actions.

Executive member: strong leadership qualities and mentoring skills are required. You should lead by example and support less experienced members through medico-politics.

Visitors and observers: these roles are not representatives of the committee or council, and do not have voting rights, but they are not passive.

Co-optees: while co-optees are not elected representatives, they can offer a unique viewpoint. Co-optees are invited to become committee or council members because of their particular skills and expertise.

New committee members

Congratulations, and thank you – representing the views of your colleagues and making a difference to doctors’ working lives is one of the most important roles you can take on. Your input and commitment is important to the BMA and to those you represent.

Read more about being an elected member of the BMA


What happens now

Our committee secretariat will contact you soon after you have been elected and will give you the dates of meetings. Among other things, we’ll ask for contact information to make sure our records are up to date, and we’ll ask you to complete a declaration form about any conflicts of interest.

The secretariat is always happy to answer your questions – please contact the relevant committee team.

BMA Committees - new member video

Induction, learning and development

There is an induction session at your first meeting, and you will be sent a comprehensive range of information. Haven’t received yours? Please get in touch with the relevant committee secretariat.

There is also:


BMA policies

As a BMA committee member, you are expected to follow the guidelines and policies in place to protect you and the organisation. Please familiarise yourself with these.


Committee meetings

If this is your first time as a member of a committee, some parts of the role may seem daunting at first. Committee meetings can be formal events with protocol, unfamiliar terminology and etiquette. If you feel uncertain about anything, it's a good idea to meet with some colleagues beforehand to talk through the experience and to pick up some tips.


Current committee members

Being a BMA committee member and representing your colleagues is an important role. We value your commitment and want you to feel supported.

Read more about being an elected member of the BMA.


Your first point of contact

For general questions, your first port of call is the relevant committee secretariat – they can help with practical and procedural issues, and put you in touch with policy experts.

Your committee induction information should cover everything you need to know about being a committee member, from expenses, honoraria and childcare to the BMA code of conduct.

Read more about committee expenses and policies or get in touch with the team by emailing the relevant committee secretariat.


Support schemes for you

We are also always looking for volunteers to mentor new members – it’s a great way to develop your coaching skills and to support new colleagues.


Order BMA materials

As a committee representative you may have the opportunity, such as at local events, to share promotional materials about joining the BMA and our services for members.

To order any materials, submit the order form online.

Booklets and service flyers:

  • are you missing out? Recruitment booklet for all branches of practice, featuring BMA member benefits
  • learning and development: service flyer for all branches of practice, featuring learning and development resources
  • wellbeing support services: service flyer for all branches of practice, featuring BMA wellbeing support services.

Other materials:

  • BMA rep business cards: branded business cards for BMA representatives
  • BMA library: library business card for all branches of practice
  • BMA rep lanyard: 3-point break or retractable lanyards for BMA representatives
  • BMA pens and other freebies: ballpoint pens and freebies for all branches of practice.

If you have any questions, please email the field events team.