Employment news

BMA commits to “necessary changes” following report of toxic work environment

An independent report has revealed that senior leaders at the British Medical Association (BMA) failed to stop discrimination, bullying and harassment towards staff and doctors. It also found that a large number of women, including doctors and employees of the organisation, reported feeling “undervalued, ignored and patronised” because of their gender, and warned of a “toxic” work environment.

The report – drawing together the findings of an independent investigation by Daphne Romney QC – has caused concern across the medical profession, as the BMA represents doctors and medical students and sets the parameters of professional practice in the NHS. The report found bullying was taking place on committees and official BMA business, as well as highlighting a broader culture of bullying affecting doctors who act as BMA representatives.

The report was commissioned by the BMA after industry publication GPonline reported that senior women within the union’s GP committee had raised concerns about sexual harassment, crude and sexist comments and about being frozen out of meetings. There were also allegations that the union’s disciplinary processes protected “establishment hierarchies”.

In the report, Daphne Romney blames an “‘old boys’ club’ culture… that lingers on without proper challenge, which treats women as of less importance and ability”. There had been a failure by senior leaders to call out bad behaviour, and that the word routinely used to describe the BMA workplace to her was “toxic”.

The 31 recommendations in the report cover changes to behaviour by BMA members, the “calling out” of bad behaviour whenever it occurs; significant changes to the way committees are run; and revisions to the complaint resolution process.

Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of the BMA, in expressing his apologies to those affected, has committed the union to make the necessary changes.