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Breaking news in Bournemouth

The BMA uses its conferences to make news

14 Jul 2017

In much the same way as the AMA, but on a much larger scale, the BMA uses its conferences to make news.

The ARM is itself a big news story given the BMA’s prominent role in leading health policy and influencing politics – and there was a strong media contingent in attendance – but it is also an opportunity to show the world the breadth of advocacy carried out by the organisation.

Adopting a ploy regularly used by the AMA, the BMA released results of a poll on the first day of the ARM. The poll – which featured prominently in the UK media – showed that 62 per cent of the British public believed the NHS would get worse over the next few years, up from 39 per cent just two years ago.

The poll had political clout because, for the first time in a BMA poll, more people were dissatisfied with the NHS than satisfied. It made headlines.

The story of a young doctor who had to crowd fund to buy a wheelchair for herself highlighted the inadequacy of wheelchairs being provided to patients under the NHS. Dr Hanna Barham-Brown shared her story with the Conference and featured in newspapers and TV news bulletins across the country.

Other stories emerging from the AMA included a vote to back decriminalisation of abortion, an attack on Government cuts to public health funding, a call to involve doctors more in medical workforce planning, a move towards a soft opt-out system for organ donation in Scotland, the Brexit threat to the medical workforce, and the drop in NHS funding.

As is the case in Australia, health policy is news in the UK. The BMA, like the AMA, is one of the leading advocacy organisations in the country.

While it was a pleasure to observe the output and tactics of the 40-plus BMA media and communications team, I took comfort in the performance and productivity achieved by our more compact unit back at the AMA.


Published: 14 Jul 2017