British Medical Association launches sexism investigation

British Medical Association launches investigation after female doctors accuse colleagues of sexism including bottom-patting and loudly guessing one’s bra size

  • Two senior GPs in the BMA revealed they and colleagues have suffered sexism
  • They allege they’ve been ignored, bullied and ‘stabbed in the back’
  • Chair of the BMA has apologised and said he is ‘appalled’ by the revelations 
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The UK’s biggest doctors’ union has apologised to its members and promised to launch an urgent investigation into ‘abusive’ sexism in its ranks.

Chair of the British Medical Association, Dr Chaand Nagpaul, said he was ‘appalled’ to hear about the behaviour against female doctors.

Accusations even included senior doctors ‘braying loudly’ as they guessed the bra size of a colleague.

Another was sexually propositioned at a meeting and some have been subjected to thigh squeezing and bottom patting, senior figures revealed.

Female doctors are being discriminated against by sexist colleagues, two senior members of the BMA have revealed, prompting the organisation to apologise and investigate (stock image)

Sexism against women in the BMA has been reported by GP Online and prompted a public apology from the organisation of 160,000 doctors.

Two senior members of the BMA’s General Practitioners Committee, its board for GPs, revealed their own experience in a column.

They described the misogynistic behaviour they and their colleagues have suffered, revealing they have been bullied, overlooked, put down and ‘stabbed in the back’.

Dr Zoe Norris and Dr Katie Bramall-Stainer said: ‘The time is now to blow open the lid on this outdated culture’.

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In response to their allegations, the BMA has said people found to be acting disrespectfully to colleagues will be ‘dealt with accordingly’.

Dr Nagpaul, chair of the BMA council, said in a statement: ‘I am appalled to hear of the treatment my colleagues describe and of similarly unacceptable behaviours.

‘I want to say I’m sorry to them, and offer my heartfelt apologies on behalf of the whole association.

‘Abusive behaviour has no place in the BMA and I recognise the courage that it takes to come forward with such allegations and so I thank them for that.


An interim report has found male GPs earn about a third more than female GPs in the NHS.

The gender pay gap is 33 per cent for GPs and 17 per cent for doctors, the report says.

This means that for every £1 earned by female doctors in the NHS, male doctors earn £1.17. 

Women are also outnumbered in senior medical roles, with 32,000 male consultants to 18,000 female, according to the initial findings of an independent review into the gender pay gap in medicine.  

The review of the gender pay gap in medicine, led by Professor Dame Jane Dacre, was commissioned by the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) in April last year.

While two-thirds of doctors who start training are women, they represent fewer than half of consultants, the DHSC said.

Health Minister Stephen Hammond said: ‘The founding principle of the NHS is to treat everyone equally, yet women employed in the health service are still experiencing inequality.

‘It’s disappointing to see that the numbers show that two-thirds of senior medics are men despite more women starting training and it is essential we understand the underlying causes of the gender pay gap if we are to eradicate it from modern workplaces like the NHS.’

The final report will be published in September. 

‘In order to be truly representative we cannot afford to lose valued members as a result of inappropriate behaviour going unchallenged, and ultimately, it will be the profession that loses out if we do.

‘Let me be clear – sexist, disrespectful, discriminatory and abusive behaviour will not be tolerated in this association and must be stamped out.’

The apology comes less than a week after NHS figures revealed GPs in the health service are worst affected by a gender pay gap.

Female doctors are paid on average around a third less than their male counterparts – earning £1 for men’s every £1.17 – ‘disappointing’ figures showed.

Women are also outnumbers in senior medical roles, making up only slightly more than a third of consultants – 18,000 women to 32,000 men.

Dr Norris and Dr Bramall-Stainer called for change and said: ‘The culture of an organisation is defined by the worst behaviours tolerated by the most senior individuals.

‘Other organisations have worked to tackle this. Now it’s the turn of the GPC. 

‘This is a call for true and genuine leadership to grasp the nettle and change for good.’

Dr Nagpaul said it was vital the BMA make positive changes to make sure all members have equal opportunities.

He said he wants the organisation to be modern, progressive, respectful and inclusive, and urged members to reflect on their own behaviour.

He added: ‘We will be launching an urgent investigation in response to [these] allegations, and we are reaching out to affected members to invite them to be an integral part of this.

‘We would also ask that any member who feels they have experienced discriminatory or abusive behaviour to contact us.

‘Going forward, we will be reviewing and identifying additional ways in which members can safely and effectively raise concerns.

‘These processes must be there to ensure that members feel supported.

‘For those who fail to meet the high standards set by the BMA, they must be dealt with accordingly.’

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