The British Medical Association
The British Medical Association (BMA) is both a professional association and a trade union, representing doctors in a forms of practice in the UK. It began life in 1832 as the Provir cial Medical and Surgical Association, established to "promote th medical and allied sciences and for the maintenance of the hor our and interests of the medical profession", and became the Britis Medical Association in 1856. Its founder wished the associatio to be "both friendly and scientific". Membership has alway been voluntary, but reached a milestone in 1994 with the 100,0()()t member and now stands at more than 118,000. Approximately 8 per cent of doctors in active practice are members, as well as 11,50' medical students. There are also more than 4,000 overseas merr bers. The Association publishes the British Medical journal on weekly basis and a monthly medico-political magazine, BMA New Review (with eight additional editions for GPs). Th Student BMJ, published monthly, was launched in 1992, and th BMj Publishing Group also produces a wide range of books an specialist journals.BMA policy is determined by elected representatives fror throughout the country at its Annual Representative Meeting.
The BMA Council implements policy via its committee structure an makes decisions on matters arising throughout the year. Ther are five major 'craft' committees, to which the Council delegate its authority to act on matters relating solely to doctors workin in the disciplines which they cover — senior and junior hospiti doctors, general practitioners, medical academic staff and doctoi in public health medicine/community health. The General Prac titioners Committee, for example, negotiates with the governmer on behalf of all general practitioners in the National Healt Service, whether or not they are BMA members. Similar arrangt ments are in place for other crafts.A wide range of committees cover doctors in other areas of prac tice, such as occupational medicine or the armed forces, or deal with special issues, such as community care. The International Committee monitors developments at European level or beyond and co-ordinates the work of the BMA in organisations such as the European Union of General Practitioners (UEMO). The Medical Ethics Committee advises doctors collectively and individually on ethical issues and publishes a handbook of guidance. The Board of Science has produced a range of reports and publications on areas such as infection control, pesticide toxicity, complementary medicine and cycling safety.
The Association's high public profile is maintained by its Public Affairs Division; full-time press, parliamentary and information officers liaise with the media, parliament and the general public. The Nuffield Library at BMA House is one of the largest medical libraries in the country.The Association has its headquarters in London, but there are local offices throughout the country, whose staff arrange local meetings and provide doctors with day-to-day advice and support on a wide range of issues, such as employment contracts and terms and conditions of service in different branches of medical practice. Industrial relations officers can advise and, where appropriate, represent members at industrial tribunals, appeals, disputes and grievance hearings. They also represent the BMA on local negotiating committees in National Health Service Trusts. There are more than 200 local BMA Divisions, which arrange meetings and social events and which submit motions to the Annual Representative Meeting.The BMA shares its representation on the UEMO with the Royal College of General Practitioners, the national academic body, founded in 1952 to "encourage, foster and maintain the highest possible standards of general practice". The UEMO statutes require member organisations to ensure that national delegations are composed in such a way as to be representative of general practitioners in individual countries, and the shared representation between the medico-political and academic wings of British general practice ensures the maintenance of a unified approach.