Northern Ireland council

The Northern Ireland (NI) council focuses on matters relevant to the medical profession and healthcare in Northern Ireland; formulating policy and ensuring it is implemented.

Location: Northern Ireland
Audience: All doctors
Updated: Thursday 15 July 2021
Voting card article illustration

Our priorities

Service reconfiguration

Northern Ireland has the worst performing health system in the UK. One in seven adults are now on an outpatient waiting list compared with one in 14 in England. None of the waiting list targets are being met. The integrated health and social care model is not operating to provide an optimal service to patients and clients.

NIC (Northern Ireland council) will work with decision makers to ensure medical staff are involved in service reconfiguration and ensure service change is effectively planned and resourced.

Medical workforce planning

We want to make sure BMA is involved in the implementation of the HSC workforce strategy (published May 2018) and that Northern Ireland is an attractive location for doctors and medical students, with pay parity with other UK jurisdictions.


The United Kingdom formally left the European Union on 31 January 2020. Northern Ireland council agreed to ensure that the voice of Northern Ireland doctors was heard in any negotiations, recognising that we are the only part of the UK that shares a land border with an EU country.

We want to ensure that the current open border arrangements are maintained, there is no impact on service delivery, and that the current MRPQ (mutual recognition of professional qualifications) arrangements are maintained.


Our people

Chair: Dr Tom Black

Deputy chair: Dr Anne Carson


A list of members of the BMA Northern Ireland council, including voting and non-voting members.

Dr Tom Black

Deputy chair
Dr Anne Carson


Professor Raanan Gillon, president of the BMA 2019-2020
Dr Tom Black, GP western division
Dr Carole Cairns, NI staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors committee chair
Dr Anne Carson, consultant southern division, NI consultants committee chair
Dr Conan Castles, GP
Dr Padhraic Conneally, consultant, western division
Dr Paul Darragh, associate specialist, UK council member
Dr David Farren, consultant and chair of regional LNC
Dr George Gardiner, consultant, northern division
Dr Sara Hedderwick, consultant, eastern division and UK council member
Dr Chris Hoo, junior doctor
Dr Molly Kerr, medical student
Mr Leo Mansell, chair of medical students committee
Ms Aisling McCarthy, medical student
Dr Allen McCullough, GP, northern division
Dr Arnie McDowell, GP, southern division
Dr Kieran McGlade, medical academic, chair of NI medical academic staff committee
Dr Helena Mc Keown, chair of representative body
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, UK council chair
Mr Kanwar Panesar, retired doctor
Dr Brian Patterson, GP
Dr Trevor Pickersgill, BMA treasurer Dr Siobhan Quinn, associate specialist
Dr David Ross, GP, eastern division
Dr Noel Sharkey, chair of NI junior doctors committee
Dr Paddy Stirling, GP-locum and sessional
Dr Alan Stout, GP, chair elect of NIGPC
Dr Andrew Wilson, junior doctor
Dr John D Woods, consultant, eastern division

Our meetings

Northern Ireland council meetings are open to council members only.

Meeting dates:

  • Wednesday 6 October 2021, 2pm-5pm
  • Wednesday 9 February 2022, 2pm-5pm
  • Wednesday 8 June 2022, 2pm-5pm.

​Meetings will be held virtually or at a location to be confirmed.


Our terms of reference

BMA Northern Ireland council considers any and all matters of specific relevance to the medical profession and healthcare in Northern Ireland. The Northern Ireland council shall determine policy and action where the application is exclusive to Northern Ireland.


Voting members

NI council shall normally have 24 directly elected voting members. This shall include 21 directly elected from the following groups of members of the BMA in Northern Ireland. This is to ensure representation, as far as possible, from across the area of the four NI divisions and the branch of practice groupings.

  • Five members whose primary branch of practice is general practice of whom: four shall be GPs; one from East; one North; one South; one West; one sessional/locum/salaried.
  • Five members whose primary branch of practice is consultant of whom:
    two from East; one North; one South; one West.
  • Two members whose primary branch of practice is staff, associate specialist and specialty doctor with no more than one from any NI divisional area.
  • Five members whose primary branch of practice is junior doctor including one for the highest polling GP trainee.
  • Two members whose primary branch of practice is medical student.
  • One member whose primary branch of practice is either public health medicine, academic, armed forces, occupational medicine or members in practice but not covered by the above.
  • One member who is a retired member.
  • In addition to the 21 seats outlined above, there shall be three seats for the highest polling candidates who have not already been elected.

Eight ex-officio Northern Ireland members comprising the chair of the NI consultants committee, the NI general practitioners committee, the NI staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors committee, the NI junior doctors committee, the NI medical students committee, the NI medical academic staff committee, the NI public health medicine and community health committee as and when reconstituted and the regional local negotiating committee.

Ex-officio members of council shall hold office until the election of their successors. Deputy chairs of branch of practice committees may attend NI council in the absence of their chair, with the same voting rights.

Non-voting members

Designated ex-officio UK members comprising the president of the BMA, chair of UK council, chair of the representative body, the treasurer, members of UK council whose registered address is in Northern Ireland.

How to join the Northern Ireland council

There are many advantages to becoming involved in our committees. You can actively influence BMA policy-making and negotiations, represent your colleagues' voices and develop your leadership skills. 

Each committee has a few routes to becoming an elected member. In the case of Northern Ireland council, these are: 

Direct elections
  • Seats/term - every three years, elections for 24 seats on Northern Ireland council take place for a three-session term.
  • Timeline - elections are usually held prior the start of the session.
  • Eligibility - all BMA members who work and live in Northern Ireland are eligible to stand and vote in this election.

The election section below is kept up to date with details about any running elections, so make sure you keep checking it throughout the year.  



Direct elections 2021 to 2024

Northern Ireland council is holding elections for 24 seats in the following professional groups for a three-session term: 

  • general practice 
  • consultants 
  • staff, associate specialists and specialty doctors
  • junior doctors 
  • medical students
  • retired doctors
  • public health medicine, academics, armed forces, occupational medicine plus those members in practice but not covered by the other specified professional groups.


To stand or vote in this election, you must:

  • be a BMA member living and working in Northern Ireland who practices in one of the specialties above
  • have a BMA online account.

Nominations and casting your vote

  • Nominations - from 9am on Monday 28 June 2021 to 12pm on Monday 26 July 2021.
  • Ballot - from 2pm on Monday 26 July 2021 to 12pm on Monday 16 August 2021.

Read our guide on how to use our online system for elections

Take part in the election


Results will be announced from Monday 16 August 2021 on the election portal.

If you have any questions about these elections, please email us


Get in touch

We’re happy to answer any queries, give advice or help on any matter related to Northern Ireland council.

Write to:
BMA Northern Ireland
16 Cromac Place
Cromac Wood
Ormeau Road

Telephone: 028 9026 9666
Fax: 028 9026 9665
Email: [email protected]