Friday, 26 July 2013

The BMA ignores its members

The BMA has recently entered negotiations on the junior doctor contract, and for the first time in quite a few years they have surveyed their members for their opinion.  Strangely the BMA has never asked its members for their opinion on working hours before. The survey was analysed by Ipsos Mori but the questions were all crafted by the BMA:

"The questions were designed by the BMA (without input from Ipsos MORI) and covered working hours, pay, quality of life and training, as well as key demographics such as gender, region, grade and speciality."

The BMA press release focused on the dangers of extra hours and based this on weak anecdote, while it completely ignored the key and striking finding that so many junior doctors want the EWTD hours limit increased:

"Many felt that the limit should be raised to better reflect reality." and "While some respondents felt that 48 hours average per week was an acceptable limit of working hours, others mentioned a need to increase the working hour limit. Broadly similar numbers of respondents expressed either view."

Notably it is interesting that the BMA survey is rather flawed methodologically, something that is inevitable when individuals try to survey, but when an organisation with the money and infrastructure of the BMA does a survey, is this acceptable?:

"This means that the responses are not representative of the population of any audience as a whole. The findings cannot therefore be extrapolated to the overall populations."

So the BMA has spent a lot of time and money on a survey, and they claim the results are pretty meaningless. So how on earth can they justify hyping up the dangers of extra hours based on weak anecdote, while completely ignoring the views of 'many' on wanting to work more hours.  Not impressive.  There were some other key findings including the need for better shift patterns and for key elements of training to be part of the contract.  But overall I can't help but think that this was a massive missed opportunity?

The cynic in me feels that this was very deliberate from the BMA.  They wanted a woolly qualitative survey as this was something which could be used to neatly ignore all the opinions that they dislike, the weak methodology allowed for this wiggle room and it is very convenient for them.  The hypocrisy of their selective use of anecdote is truly breathtaking; either the survey is too weak to rely on and they should not have hyped up the dangers of extra hours, or they should have given fair coverage to the huge numbers who want more hours.  The BMA's biased and selective use of the results is an insult to their membership.  It is however telling that despite the BMA's spin, many doctors are deeply unhappy with the EWTD hours limit and want more hours.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

The JDC comprise medico-political careerists, who'll happily sell their colleagues out to gain patronage and a leg up the political ladder. They stage a bogus survey and then they ignore the responses. This is patronising. Why do junior doctors put up with these little creeps?