NSS: doctors not declaring faith group links in union debates

Posted: Thu, 22nd Jun 2023

NSS: doctors not declaring faith group links in union debates

Representatives of the UK's largest doctors' union are failing to declare ties with faith groups opposed to assisted dying, the NSS has said.

The NSS wrote to the British Medical Association (BMA) this week to raise concerns that several representatives who are members of the Christian Medical Fellowship (CMF) failed to declare this at the 2021 Annual Representative Meeting.

During the Annual Representative Meeting (ARM), members debate and vote on BMA policy. The BMA says any potential conflict of interest should declared before participating in ARM debates.

One CMF member made a contribution on assisted dying so inaccurate that the BMA had to issue a written clarification in its recording of the debate.

A CMF publication argues "the Christian case against medical killing".

In 2019, doctors with ties to the CMF launched a failed legal challenge to stop the Royal College of Physicians adopting a position of neutrality on assisted dying. Their case was supported by Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) International, a conservative Christian lobby group deemed an "anti-LGBT hate group" in the US.

Baroness Ilora Finlay has contributed to a number of ARM debates on assisted dying in recent years but has failed to declare as an interest that the anti-assisted dying lobby group she co-founded, Living and Dying Well, has received funding from the Catholic Church for its activities.

The NSS asked the BMA how it planned to address representatives failing to disclose relevant conflicts of interest.

Eighty-four percent of Brits support a change in law to allow assisted dying.

NSS: 'a diversity of views is welcome but delegates must declare relevant conflicts of interest'

NSS campaigns officer Dr Alejandro Sanchez said: "We support the inclusion of a wide diversity of views during debate, but efforts to subvert the democratic mandate of the ARM by failing to declare highly relevant conflicts of interest should not be treated lightly.

"Individuals who participate in these debates should make their fellow delegates aware of their association with faith groups that have a history of campaigning against end-of-life choice."

Image by Darko Stojanovic from Pixabay

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