Now that I will never work as a doctor again the only benefit I get from my rather expensive BMA subscription is a free weekly copy of the British Medical Journal. That is not why I am resigning my membership. I do that as a statement of my disappointment at the BMA’s failure to support members who get into trouble for raising concerns about patient care. In particular this is true of its outrageous pursuit of Ed Jesudason for £250,000 legal costs after he refused an out of court settlement that would have required him to behave unethically. Ed received a standing ovation at this years annual representative meeting. This suggests that BMA leaders may not be properly attuned to their membership.
Here is my email sent today 13 November to Loyalty@bma.org.uk confirming my resignation and giving my reasons:
You recently wrote to ask me why I had resigned my BMA membership. You asked the following of me:
“Would you be kind enough to provide your reasons for leaving? Your feedback will be used to ensure that we are meeting the needs of our members.”
My letter to Mark Porter below should go some way to explaining my resignation. Dr Porter’s failure to respond (which in my experience is habitual) is also significant.
I do not wish to go into the detail behind my resignation but it largely results from the abject failure of the BMA (despite its public posturing) to give whistle-blowing doctors the support they need. Here is an extract from my recently published book Little Stories of Life and Death @NHSWhistleblowr:
“In December, while we were waiting for the application to amend to be heard, I noticed that the Health Select Committee was about to hear evidence from the British Medical Association, the Royal College of Nursing, the Care Quality Commission and the Department of Health on professional responsibility. It included questions on gagging clauses. I sent the House of Commons Health Select Committee details of my own case, including attempts to gag
me by the Trust and the BMA. Mark Porter, Chair of the Consultants’ Committee, gave evidence for the BMA. My own experience of BMA legal support left me unimpressed with his statements. “I wrote an email to Mark immediately after the hearing, pointing out the contradictions between statements he had made to the committee and my own experience. He appeared to know what the BMA’s position was on everything to do with whistleblowing and settlement but little about what happened in practice. I asked why my case had been entrusted to a relatively inexperienced solicitor. The full merit assessment of my case by my private lawyers included 36 hours of reading and a four-hour face-to-face meeting with a three-strong legal team, including the barrister. Yet the BMA lawyer had refused a face-to-face meeting and had not even bothered to read the documents on my disclosures. Why did Avril England not register my case as a whistle-blower? If and when she went off the record my new team could have picked this up without all the work and expense involved in re-labelling. In my case the BMA had made no attempt to support a whistle-blower. These were questions which as a paid-up BMA member I deserved answers to.
“It took two months for Dr Porter to reply and then it was only after two reminders. He was polite and apologetic. My letter (I had sent an email) had been “mislaid”. There is an art to formulating this kind of response. The trick is to say something without really saying anything. In any case I did not get any answers to my questions.
“The Health Committee referred to an exposé in The Times by Alexei Mostrous. Three London Trusts had gagged doctors, even specifying that they could not speak to professional regulators. These gags were referred to by Stephen Dorrell, the committee chair, as unlawful and unenforceable. As a result I rang Alexei to tell him that I had the next chapter in his account of NHS gags. He sounded doubtful but after I sent him all the correspondence relating to the BMA-mediated gag he wrote an article: “No help for doctor who refused to be gagged”. No help from the BMA, that was.”
Little Stories, page 296-7.
Chapter 40: The BMA Solicitor is also instructive.
Little Stories of Life and Death @NHSWhistleblowr is available as softback and eBook from Amazon, Troubador or bookshops.
I attach an article published in The Consultant Journal Autumn 2014 outlining the progress of Little Stories in its early months.
From: David & Janet Drew
Sent: Sunday, May 11, 2014 7:59 PM
Subject: Paediatric Whistleblower
Attention of Dr Mark Porter BMA President.
You may not remember but we had a very unsatisfactory email correspondence in 2012. I have now finished with the Tribunals and I am currently, with a group of other dismissed whistleblowers, fighting for a Public Inquiry. You may have seen the extensive coverage of this by the Times last week and the article on Raj Mattu in the Sunday Times. I believe you have some knowledge of both our cases which have been linked in the Birmingham Mail and Post this week.
I am now able to tell the whole story. My book “Little Stories of Life and Death @NHSWhistleblowr” was published 2 weeks ago and launched at the Speaking out Summit at the RSM on Thursday. It is available here (Amazon has sold out and is taking 2 weeks to deliver so do not go there. In the bookshops in next few weeks.)
You and the BMA play an important and unsatisfactory part in the narrative. I exclude my BMA IRO who was a bit of a saint. My intention is not to damn you but to help the BMA learn from its past failures.
If we are successful in securing a judicial inquiry the BMA’s failure with respect to a number of high profile whistle-blowers will come under scrutiny. More learning.
I wish you well