Salaried GPs really need to see both sides of the BMA coin. On the one hand, the BMA, through its General Practitioner's Committee (GPC), has an active Sessional GP Subcommittee; produces an excellent Salaried GP Handbook; has a veritable army of industrial relations officers and has the fair representation of salaried GPs enshrined as part of its core business.
But this wonderful altruism towards salaried GPs lacks one very basic yet fundamental law: an organisation designed to represent employers can not possibly ever do the same for its members' employees. I've yet to come across any other trade union in the democratic world that makes the same claim as the BMA.
The BMA is the doctors union, predominantly representing employed hospital doctors and, through its craft committee the GPC, GPs. These GPs, however, are mostly contractors and not employees - only 17% of GPs are, strictly speaking, employees. 25% are locum GPs and the remaining 60% are PMS/GMS contractors.
It’s a representational mess and the BMA is just tying us in knots. And its salaried GPs who are being strangled.
Here at the NASGP we get email after email from bullied, neglected and abused salaried GPs, often too scared to make a fuss as, not only do they know that 'making a fuss' will be followed by them being ostracised for being an employee at another practice, they will be unable to get impartial help from their trade union that also represents even more GPs on the other side of their employment contract.
So the BMA needs to make a choice and let go of its hold on the representation of either its employers or employees. Although it has been looking after PMS/GMS contractors the longest, I actually think it's this lot, already well organised and empowered, who would be the best group to be jettisoned from the BMA, leaving Sessional GPs under the protection of the BMA, particularly as the BMA already looks after many more employed doctors in secondary care.
If they don't make up their mind, or whilst they're trying to decide what to do, Sessional GPs need to consider an alternative to the BMA-GPC-LMC trade union axis and join an independent trade union. I'm not saying that Sessional GPs need to necessarily resign from the BMA - the BMA offers services above and beyond a trade union - but we need to belong to a trade union independent from our employers.
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