On 16th March 2016 BMA council called a Special Representative Meeting to discuss current crisis in the NHS, morale amongst doctors and potential solutions. As a member of the Representative Body elected to attend the 2015 ARM in Liverpool I and all the others who attended remain in office as a representatives to this SRM. The date for this SRM is Tuesday 3rd May in central London. The format of the meeting will be non-motion based ie no motions will be sought or received for this meeting. With a bit of juggling of my week I will be able to attend. In addition I have been assured a seat at the 2016 BMA Annual Representatives Meeting in Belfast, through UK-CC, at the end of June.

I am hoping to submit through the London Regional Council the following motion.

Motion for ARM

That this conference welcomes the Secretary of State for Health’s decision to introduce the Medical Examiners position as laid out in the Coroners and Justice Act 2009 as he stated in the House of Commons on Wednesday  9th March but

i)  Calls on the UK government, as it applies to England and Wales,  to make sure the position of Medical Examiner is appropriately funded to attract suitably qualified candidates and have proper administrative and technical support.

ii)  Asks the UK government to ensure that those Bereavement Officers and Anatomical Technicians in England and Wales are compensated for loss of earnings under the new system.

iii) Calls on the BMA in discussion with the Royal Medical Colleges to ensure that the Medical Examiner has commensurate terms and conditions to working in the NHS if employed by a local authority.

iv)  Calls on the BMA and the Government to carefully consider whether funding is through Local Authorities or the NHS.

Finally in advance of Fridays Medical Staff Committee at NMUH I would ask any of the NMUH Consultants who have not read my blog regarding  Rob Harwood’s talk at the Consultants Conference and my report of the last UK-CC Meeting to do so.



The BMA’s  response to the budget was reported widely across national and regional media including the Daily Mirror, Daily Mail, Independent and Huffington Post. After repeated calls from the BMA for the introduction of a sugar tax, the chancellor confirmed that a sugar tax would be brought it by 2018, at 18-24p per litre, with the expected £530m raised to be spent on primary school sports in England,  and the devolved administrations in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland free to decide how to spend their share.

Professor Shelia Hollins, BMA board of science chair, said:
“The chancellor’s decision to introduce a new levy on excessive sugar in soft drinks is a welcome step forward and a move called for in the BMA’s recent Food for Thought report1. This is an important initiative that could help to begin to address the obesity crisis amongst young children, although the delay in introducing it for two years is disappointing. ore needs to be done to invest in proper preventive measures that protect people’s lives and the public’s resources. The implementation of minimum alcohol unit pricing is still also badly needed given the billions spent on the impact of excessive alcohol consumption.”

Despite the crisis facing the NHS that there was no promise of extra funding for the health service.  Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said:
“It is disgraceful given the crisis facing the NHS that there was no promise of extra funding for a health service that is buckling under pressure from rising patient demand, falling resources and staff shortages. Hospitals and GP practices around the country are at breaking point and need urgent, extra investment to maintain even basic care to their patients. The political rhetoric does not match the reality on the ground of an NHS in crisis. The government’s funding promises have simply not materialised.”

 Selection of online articles

 Budget 2016: Sugar Tax To Tackle Childhood Obesity  Huffington Post, Wednesday 16 March 2016 (BMA Mention, Sheila Hollins)

 Shameless chancellor shifts Budget blame with sugar tax sideshow  Daily Mirror, Wednesday 16 March 2016 (BMA Mention)

 Pension raid to cost public sector £2bn Daily Mail, Wednesday 16 March 2016 (BMA Mention, Mark Porter)

 Budget failure to invest in NHS is ‘a disgrace’, says BMA GP Online, Wednesday 16 March 2016 (BMA Mention, Mark Porter, Sheila Hollins)

Chancellor announces sugar tax from 2018 Pulse, Wednesday 16 March 2016 (BMA Mention, Sheila Hollins)

Sugar tax is a tax on the poor The Spectator, Wednesday 16 March 2016 (BMA Mention)


Last July Mark Porter wrote to the Home Office Minister, James Brokenshire to highlight concerns about changes to the Tier 4 visa system and the ‘established presence’ clause, which would place a substantial financial burden on international medical students. In his response, the Minister said that he would ask Home Office officials to look at the position of postgraduate doctors on the UK Foundation Programme to ascertain whether any changes should be made. Subsequently BMA International Department gained the support of the UKFPO, HEE and Medical Schools Council in supporting the BMA position with the Home Office whilst Susan Bahl in Public Affairs spoke to a number of other stakeholders including NUS and Universities UK. On Friday 11 March, the Government published a Statement of Changes in Immigration Rules which states the following:

” An amendment is being made to reduce the maintenance requirements for those applying for leave to remain under Tier 4 as a student union sabbatical officer or postgraduate doctor or dentist on a recognised Foundation Programme. These students are applying for a salaried position, which will contribute to their ability to support themselves financially. These students will be required to show funds for their living costs for each month of their course up to a maximum of two months, bringing them in line with Doctorate Extension Scheme students, who can also work full-time.”

As a result of BMA lobbying, the Government has reverted the rules back to what they were before they removed the ‘established presence’ clause for medical students moving into the Foundation Programme for visa applications made on or after 6 April 2016 – just in time to avoid problems for those making their applications to start the FP in August 2016.

You can find the BMA News article here: http://www.bma.org.uk/news-views-analysis/news/2016/march/changes-to-immigration-rules-welcomed

Congratulations , comments and queries to Susannah Nightingale Senior Policy Advisor (BMA International and Immigration) E: snightingale@bma.org.uk