BMA pays lawyers to support investigation of at least six complaints against GPC members

Exclusive At least half a dozen complaints against members of the BMA’s GP committee in England are being handled by lawyers funded by BMA members, Pulse has learned.

Under a new system introduced in 2019, complaints against a member of any BMA committee that reach a certain threshold are subject to review by an external law firm after being triaged by a line of complaints. external assistance.

Pulse has learned that at least half a dozen complaints have been made against GPC England members who reached the threshold and were investigated with the support of lawyers during the 2021/22 term .

GPs connected to the GPC have expressed concerns that the complaints system is ‘armed’, the cost to BMA members and how the culture and conduct within the GPC is causing these complaints.

The BMA said the costs of the complaints system were “confidential”.

The new complaints system was introduced following a report by Orla Tierney QC which found complaints ‘have been raised to stifle debate, disrupt elections and settle old scores’.

The Denise Romney QC reportwho looked into sexism through the BMA, concluded that she would have recommended the same system.

A GP close to the committee said of the new system: ‘The complaints system is still being armed, but in a much more expensive way.

Pulse understands that the complaints against members of GPC England have been made by staff and other members of the committee.

These are often related to conduct on the listserv (the mail group used by members of the GPC), and more specifically to elections for officer positions within the GPC.

A BMA spokesperson told Pulse: “The current external independent complaints procedure is the product of [the Tierney report] recommendations and this report, and this approach was endorsed by the Romney review. The use of an independent law firm, Weightmans, was specifically recommended by Tierney.

“The Tierney report also made it clear that all complaints required investigation, so if there were more complaints in a committee, it would follow that there would be more of surveys.”

Dr John Hughes, Chairman of GP Survival, said: “While GP Survival welcomes the principle of external review of cases referred to the BMA’s internal complaints process, we are concerned that this will be facilitated by the referral of so many cases to an external law firm rather than an independent panel of clinicians with access to legal advice and with the potential costs to BMA’s budget.

“We are also concerned to learn that since the introduction of this examination there have been at least six cases of CPG; this large number of one committee suggests either a deeply dysfunctional culture of intimidation and harassment, or a vexatious abuse of process to target individuals and attempt to stifle dissent, as we have seen elsewhere with the militarization of PAG and GMC references.

Pulse revealed yesterday that culture and conduct at GPC England – which included sexist comments – had contributed to its chairwoman having to take sick leave within months of taking office.

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