Dr Chandra Kanneganti, one of two candidates standing for election as the next chair of the BMA’s GP committee, currently serves as a Conservative councillor in Goldenhill and Sandyford, in Stoke-on-Trent.
The West Midlands GP was also elected Lord Mayor of Stoke-on-Trent earlier this year in his capacity as a local councillor.
Dr Kanneganti and Dr Farah Jameel will take part in a hustings at a BMA GP committee meeting on 18 November and committee members will vote on the day to decide which of the two will replace outgoing chair Dr Richard Vautrey.
GP committee election
BMA conflict of interest rules suggest that a chair can continue to hold other roles as long as they are openly declared. However, some current and former members of the BMA GP committee have raised concerns about whether leading the committee is compatible with serving as a representative of a political party.
GPonline requested a list of conflicts of interest declared by both candidates, but the BMA has said it does not publish declarations or candidate statements ahead of committee elections.
A spokesperson said: ‘With the election process underway, it would be inappropriate to comment on matters related to individual candidates.
‘Candidates for BMA senior elected positions are required to declare any potential interests at the nomination stage of the process and to also propose mitigations, should they be elected. This information is made available to voting members ahead of voting.’
Conflict of interest
Manchester GP Dr John Hughes, chair of GP Survival and a former BMA GP committee member, said he felt active representation of a political party was an ‘unacceptable conflict of interest’.
I would consider being a Mayor and an active representative of a political party an unacceptable COI, and also something which would preclude the necessary attention and commitment to the position; however it is up to the members of GPC to decide.
— Dr John G Hughes (@johnghughes3) November 11, 2021
But Dr Hughes told GPonline: ‘It wouldn’t be against BMA rules. I think official guidance on being elected chair of any committee states that you should have time to do the job and be able to give attention.
‘The BMA’s stand is that people will have conflicts of interest, but that they need to be sort of openly declared and everybody needs to be aware of them when forming an opinion as to whether somebody is the best person for chair or even for committee seats. At the end of the day, it is up to the GPC members who are voting to decide whether they feel there is an issue.’
Some existing GPC members suggested privately to GPonline that they were also concerned about the potential dual role.
Elected BMA officials are required to sign up to its conflict of interest policy, which defines a conflict of interest as a ‘set of circumstances that creates a risk that an individual’s ability to apply objective judgment or act in one role is, or could be, impaired or influenced by a secondary interest’.
The BMA policy document says: ‘The intention is not to forbid participation in other activities outside of the normal responsibilities of a member, indeed these additional activities can be a source of strength to the BMA.’