East London GP Dr Sam Everington has been named as acting chairman of the British Medical Association’s Council, following the surprise resignation of James Johnson a few days earlier.

Dr Everington has been deputy chairman of the Association since 2004, and will take over Johnson’s responsibilities until a permanent replacement is elected on June 28 at the group’s annual meeting. Nominations for the chairman will close on June 12.

Johnson resigned from his position as the furore surrounding the controversial junior doctors training application system MTAS was reaching its climax. According to the Association, many of its members lost confidence in Johnson after a letter he wrote with Dame Carol Black, Chairman of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, to The Times (May 17) over the Government's "mishandling" of MTAS "failed to reflect the anger being currently expressed by members of the Association, particularly junior doctors.”

’Major issues’

“There are major issues on which we must rally the medical profession and lead them in the coming months, as the voice of doctors,” Everington said. “The BMA is consulting widely on its alternative approach to running the NHS. It is working hard to get junior doctors into training posts this summer and end the fiasco that this Government has allowed to take place.”

Following a judicial review of MTAS last week, which agreed that the premature introduction of the system was “disastrous” but ruled against invalidating the first round of recruitment, Health Secretary Patricia Hewitt’s olive branch contained 200 additional long-term specialist training posts for junior doctors in England and an unspecified number of extra temporary posts.

In response, Dr Jo Hilborne, chairman of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, said: "Patricia Hewitt is recognising the need to keep as many doctors as possible in training, which is a step in the right direction. We intend to hold her to her guarantees.” But he also stressed: “Creating more temporary posts on its own is not an adequate solution. We need to know that there will be more opportunities to get into long-term training in years to come, and increased flexibility to move between specialties and regions.”

The BMA’s Council has scheduled a special meeting on June 5 to discuss the interim arrangements as well as the Modernising Medical Careers framework and MTAS.

NHS Confed picks chair

Elsewhere, the NHS Confederation's Primary Care Trust Network has elected Dr Lise Llewellyn as its chair and Paul Sabapathy as its vice-chair. Dr Lise Llewellyn is chief executive of Berkshire East PCT and Paul Sabapathy is chair of Birmingham East and North PCT.