Shock Election Result


I appreciate there have been other shock election results recently! However I was shocked to be directly elected to the British Medical Association (BMA) Welsh Council for the session 2014 – 2017.


I was heartened by the number of general practitioners and hospital consultants who contacted me about my candidate’s statement and who voted for me; see:


The first meeting of the new Council took place earlier this week and it seemed that cultural reproduction will be a major obstacle to reform of the Council’s work after the apparent failures by the Council in the previous session. Many of the new Council were members of the previous Council and they will even be co-opting former Council members to reinforce the cultural reproduction.


In my opinion the previous Council betrayed the principle of autonomy through their lobbying to replace informed consent for organ donation with deemed consent for the removal of body parts through the Human Transplantation (Wales) Act 2013. I believe that it is a lie to claim that deemed consent is a valid form of consent. It is my opinion that deemed consent is a fictitious phrase that ignores international conventions around valid consent. I deplore the actions of the previous Council in relation to this issue.


It appeared at the first meeting there is little understanding amongst some members that inequalities of health, both in the causes of ill-health and in the outcomes, are a social injustice. This apparent lack of understanding would be consistent with the low value attached to autonomy and informed consent.


The satisfaction of being elected was tempered by the apparent democratic deficit at the Council. A democratic deficit can be defined as a situation where it is believed there is a lack of democratic control over decision-making (Collins Dictionary, 2012). I believe there is a democratic deficit in relation to the position of the Chairman of the BMA Welsh Council because Standing Orders meant that the newly elected Welsh Council were not able to elect their Chairman.


Perversely the previous Vice Chairman did have to stand for re-election. I stood against the previous Vice Chairman on a platform that sought to promote “democracy friendly” dialogues (Hirschman, 1991), and to draw attention to the apparent failures by the Council in the previous session. It was unsurprising that I was not elected; cultural reproduction in action!

The omens do not appear propitious for higher quality actions by the Council in the new session focussed primarily on profession-wide matters. Nevertheless, I was directly elected by BMA members in Wales and not co-opted or appointed by some other route hence I maintain I have a right to try to improve the actions of the Council.

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About Iain Robbe

I am a medical practitioner (MB, BS, 1980) registered with the General Medical Council of the United Kingdom without a licence to practice. I am now in practice as a Clinical Medical Educationist partly through my links with Memorial University, Newfoundland where I have an appointment as a Clinical Assistant Professor (part-time); and with the Centre for Medical Education, Dundee University where I have an appointment as an Outwith Clinical Tutor (part-time).

Also, I have links with the seven UK veterinary schools particularly for undergraduate and post graduate teaching and research in professionalism, ethics, communications, and using the arts and humanities in veterinary education.

I have a Master’s degree in Public Health from the University of London (1985) and a Master’s degree in Medical Education with distinction from the University of Wales (2001).

The guiding principles in my practices are based on andragogy and humanism, and the prime ethical principle of autonomy for the individual and in population health.

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