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The British Medical Association (BMA) is the professional body to which the vast majority of British doctors belong. It is based in Tavistock Square in central London. It owns the "British Medical Journal", one of the world's more prestigious medical journals.
It was established by the amalgamation of several regional medical associations, of which the original was probably the one from Worcester, and dates from around 1860.
It has a complex representational structure which allows doctors to be represented both by the geographical area in which they work, and by the various craft committees. The craft committees comprise (in alphabetical order):
- Central Consultants and Specialists Committee
- General Practice Committee
- Junior Doctors Committee
- Medical Academic Staff Committee
- Medical Ethics Committee
- Medical Students Committee
- Public Health Medicine and Community Health Committees.
- Staff and Associate Specialists Committee
The BMA has sole negotiating rights for national Terms and Conditions of Service for doctors working in the National Health Service (NHS).
The BMA also carries out professional activities including supporting public health initiatives such as a ban on smoking in public places, responding on behalf of doctors to consultations by national public bodies and the Government, and promoting the views and reputation of doctors in different arenas.
The BMA holds an Annual Representative Meeting (ARM) where delegates from throughout the country and across craft disciplines meet to set BMA policy for the forthcoming year. The last ARM was held in Belfast in June 2006 and the next will take place in Torquay in the summer of 2007.
The BMA Council is the highest political body within the BMA and nominally runs the organisation’s policy wing in accordance with ARM decisions (although each craft committee retains significant independent authority). The Council is elected directly by BMA members under rules designed to guarantee representation to each differing craft area. At each ARM the members of council elect a chairman and vice-chairman.
The current chairman of council (subsequently referred to as “The Chairman of the BMA”) is Dr James Johnson, a consultant surgeon in vascular and general surgery in Cheshire. The vice chairman is Dr Sam Everington a GP from London. Both were re-elected for a further one year term in 2006. However, while Dr Everington was elected unopposed, Dr Johnson faced a challenge from Dr George Rae, a GP from Newcastle and Dr Sati Ariyanayagam, a consultant and freelance GP from the London area. Dr Johnson won the contest by 20 – 13 – 1.
The BMA is not responsible for registering doctors for practice in the United Kingdom; this role is carried out by the General Medical Council. Membership of the BMA is voluntary.
The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) is another professional body in the UK specifically designed for senior hospital doctors.
On the 7th of July 2005, one of the bombings on the London Transport system was on a Bus in Tavistock Square in central London, very close to the headquarters of the BMA. Doctors from within the building were some of the first to provide emergency medical assistance to those involved.
Medical Students Committee (MSC)
This is one of the major craft committees of the British Medical Assoication. It is responsible for the dissemination of the views of medical students throughout the UK. It has representatives from every medical school and meets up (usually in London) four times a year to discuss the major issues affecting medical students at that time.
Each medical school has two centrally elected representatives - the Medical Student Committee Representative and the Intra-School Committee representative. The former works on national policy issues, and the latter works locally, at grassroot, to ind out what the key issues are for medical students.
Some of the more recent issues tackled have been
- Bullying in medical schools
- Dyslexia guidance
- Financial concerns for medical students (Top Up Fees Campaign)
- Medical Applications for junior house officer jobs
- Social equality and increasing participation in medical school
- Changing medical education
- Fitness to Practice issues
Some of the key documents they have produced are
- Medicine in the 21st Century
- Insiders Guide to Medical Schools
- Medical School Charter
- How to deal with bullying
The committee also elects Chairs and Deputy Chairs each year. The recent leaders of this committee have been:
- 2006 / 2007 - Emily Rigby (Bristol University)
- 2005 / 2006 - Kirsty Lloyd (Leicester University)
- 2003 / 2005 - Leigh Bissett (University of East Anglia)
- 2001 / 2003 - Jennie Ceichan (University of Edinburgh)
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