BMA to take action to root out sexual harassment

An independent review highlights an old boy’s culture that enables sexual harassment.

Woman leans on a table looking depressed


A British Medical Association report has found that an ‘old boys’ club’ culture exists which enables incidents of sexual harassment.

The independent report by Daphne Romney QC found some women “feel they are undervalued, ignored, and patronised because they are women. This applies to both doctors and members of staff. This is because of an ‘old boys’ club’ culture for some that lingers on without proper challenge, which treats women as of less importance and ability.” She hopes the report “will focus attention within the BMA on the damaging elements of its discriminatory culture, including the (limited) instances of sexual harassment”.

She adds: “I must emphasise that the majority of men in the BMA are not sexist or sexual harassers, and every committee is not riddled with discrimination. There are hundreds of BMA committees, most of which carry out their work perfectly properly”.

The BMA commissioned the review after reports came to light that two female doctors alleged sexism and sexual harassment by elected members of the BMA. The review was also asked to make recommendations to address gender bias and wider harassment in the BMA, drawing on examples of best practice.

At the time the allegations came to light, the BMA Chair of Council, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said sexism and sexual harassment had no place in the organisation and immediately committed to this independent review. He has apologised and promised extensive reform to the organisation.

In response to the findings, Dr Nagpaul said: “I am truly appalled to learn that members and staff have been subjected to sexism and sexual harassment and the behaviours described in this report. These behaviours have no place within the BMA. I am deeply sorry to those who have been affected and I thank all those individuals who came forward to contribute to the review – I recognise their strength and courage in speaking out.

“The report makes for difficult reading. I am determined that we learn from it, and, most importantly that we make the necessary changes to ensure we become a truly inclusive association by implementing the recommendations.”

The BMA says that in response it is introducing an external Guardian of Safe Working and internal Staff Listening Champions for all involved in the BMA.


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