ARM: an insider’s view…

Today officially marks the day the ARM – and hundreds of doctors with it – rolls into Belfast. I’m sure many of you (myself included) arrived over the weekend to make the most of what the Northern Ireland capital has to offer (any fellow Game of Thrones fans out there?) before getting stuck into an exciting week of debate and policy setting.

I’m really looking forward to this year’s ARM for various reasons – one being that this is my final ARM as a medical student, and co-chair of the Scottish Medical Students Committee. This marks the end of an era for me, and the start of a new chapter which I’m both excited and nervous about.

This ARM will also see me take over all of BMA Scotland’s social media accounts today, with a view to giving those who cannot attend a real candid taste of what the conference is all about. I’ll be taking over Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ScotsAtARM and keeping you up to speed on everything that’s happening throughout the day – starting with a tour of the venue itself.

There are a number of controversial issues this year being discussed including motions on bullying and harassment in Scotland, and calls for the reform of abortion law for decriminalization in Northern Ireland. These are some really hot topics and I look forward to seeing how they will pan out.

Another topic I’m particularly interested in is homelessness: motion 85 is a composite of motions from the public health conference and one I submitted via the medical students’ conference and Scottish Council. Unfortunately, it means I don’t get to propose it myself, but parts of mine were taken to form the final motion, which is still a win as far as I’m concerned. I will likely speak either for this motion, or the one after 86, which asks the BMA to support recommendations of the Shelter Scotland report on homelessness. I am considering submitting a rider about this latter motion as it’s not entirely explicit enough in what these recommendations are in the wording. I’m sure as the week progresses you’ll hear my thoughts on Twitter!

Recently, attendees at the Medical Students Conference and the Junior Doctors Conference took different positions in the representation of medical associate professionals (MAPS) by the BMA. Neither conference produced a unanimously supported policy, and I expect views on both positions to be shared at ARM. There is likely to be some healthy, and engaging debate on this topic, which is proving to be quite a challenging area, that encapsulates the changing dynamics of healthcare teams.

Finally, I plan to submit an emergency motion regarding Serco in Glasgow, which is contracted to provide accommodation for asylum seekers and is currently instigating lock change evictions on all 300 of their tenants this coming week. This is unacceptable and risks a humanitarian crisis on the streets of Glasgow, which I am urging the BMA to firmly oppose from a public health standpoint – I hope it will be accepted as an emergency motion, so watch this space.

I look forward to seeing you all there and don’t forget to follow the hashtag #ScotsAtARM from today for all your social media updates!

David Clayton is the co-chair of BMA Scotland’s Medical Students Committee

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