East Yorkshire GP Dr Hamish Meldrum has been voted in as the new chairman of the British Medical Association, trading in his prior role of chairman of the BMA’s GP’s committee.

Dr Meldrum takes over the position immediately after beating from Dr Sam Everington, acting chairman since James Johnson’s resignation in May, and Dr Tony Calland, chair of BMA Wales, to the post.

Commenting on the challenges the profession faces, Dr Meldrum coined the Medical Training Application Service “debacle” and the staff and associate specialist contract as immediate priorities, but also highlighted the potential loss of professionally-led regulation, a “worrying” fall in the number of medical academics and “continuing threats to previously-agreed contracts for GPs and consultants” as serious issues.

United front

“All this is in the context of uncertainties about devolution and the future direction of travel for the NHS, including the influence of the private sector,” he said, adding: “It is my role to ensure the profession remains united and that doctors can be guaranteed the right working conditions that will enable them to continue to provide the best care for their patients.”

The signing-in of a new BMA leader closely followed that of new Labour head and Prime Minister Gordon Brown last week. “With a new leader of the country and a new leader of the BMA, this is a chance for a fresh start. Gordon Brown must fully engage with all health professionals if he is serious about his commitment to the principles and values of the NHS,” he stressed.