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Role of Interest Groups

Case Study – British Medical Association (BMA)

Origins

The British Medical Association was founded in 1832 by Sir Charles Hastings, a doctor in Worcester, as the Provincial and Medical Surgical Association. ... An early leading role for the BMA was in the Medical Act of 1858, which created the General Medical Council and the Medical Register. [1]

Aims

The BMA claims to ‘…represent doctors both individually and collectively, working with UK governments to lobby for improvements to health and health care.’ This involves the following:
  • Employment advice – offers specialist advice on issues like contracts, pay and discrimination
  • Career development – understands unique needs and daily challenges of doctors and support in order to progress doctors careers
  • Work/life support – access to resources advice and support to give a peace of mind

Interest or Cause Group?

It is an interest group rather than a cause group as it is concerned to protect or advance the interests of members and membership is limited to doctors, its main focus is aimed at doctors and giving them guidance as well as standing up for the profession as a collective. 

Insider or Outsider?

They are an insider group as they represent doctors both individually and collectively, working with UK governments to lobby for improvements to health and health care. They regularly represent the views of doctors on behalf of their patients in parliament.

Membership

The current membership is: 169,000 doctors.

Successes

Association has national offices in Cardiff, Belfast, and Edinburgh, a European office in Brussels and a number of offices in English regions showing it is a wide spread establishment and has prominence. 
In 2001 it gained government recognition over the recruitment crisis in general practice as a result of determined lobbying. [2]

Failure?

The BMA is currently involved in a dispute over the new junior doctors contracts and has instigated strike action on six separate occasions by junior doctors, including the first all-out stoppages in the history of the NHS.[3]  The case was taken to the high court in September 2016 where they lost the case and the new contract was deemed lawful, but it was up to the discretion of individual hospital trusts as to whether the contracts were imposed. Junior doctors in England  had originally planned a series of five-day strikes in October, November and December 2016 in response, but were suspended following concerns over patient safety. The junior doctors' committee of the British Medical Association said that it remained in dispute with the government over the issue. The government has said the doctors' case is without merit. A strike planned earlier in September 2016 had already been cancelled.

References

[1] https://www.bma.org.uk/events/venue-hire/our-history

[2] http://web.bma.org.uk/pressrel.nsf/wall/C5CA5A58E8E4901D80256A0E00513CA4?OpenDocument

[3] http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/health-37481677

Case study provided by Advanced Level Adviser - Zoe Lynes
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