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Independents' Day

BMA reviewing policies after officials claimed expenses for trips with spouses

The BMA has announced it is reviewing all relevant policies after it was revealed that former senior officials had taken their spouses on work trips and claimed expenses for it.

The BMA told Pulse the issue came to light back in January, but the total sum of the expenses claimed it is not currently known.

All officials involved have left the organisation and none of the current officers ‘have been in receipt of such spousal travel expenses payments', the BMA said.

The BMA previously had no formal policy on expenses and although there is no legal obligation to repay any monies owed, the BMA is planning to write to those involved, a BMA spokesperson told Pulse.

They said: ‘Doctors working on behalf of the BMA are reimbursed expenses when they are required to travel and stay overnight as a part of their BMA roles.

'We are aware that payments of expenses for some spouses have been made when accompanying past senior BMA member officers to international events. On some occasions, spouses have been specifically invited by the host overseas national medical association. The BMA board has already acted to end such payments.’

‘None of the current chief officers have been in receipt of such spousal travel expense payments. The board is updating and strengthening wider BMA expenses policies and procedures to reflect current best practice so that members are confident that the BMA is working for their best interests,' the spokesperson added.

Liverpool LMC secretary Dr Rob Barnett said the rules may have allowed such claims at the time, but that this should now change.

He said: 'At that particular time, the BMA must have been satisfied with what was going on. I don’t know whether there was a written down policy, but clearly it was accepted practice.

'If something was accepted practice, going around now vilifying individuals for doing what they believed was acceptable and what was signed off as acceptable is not reasonable.’

'Judging by 2019 standards, I would agree that it should not be happening. There needs to be a written down policy and that policy needs to be very clear and self-explanatory. The BMA is working to put things right and I think that is what’s important and we should let that take its course,' he added.

Lincolnshire medical director Dr Kieran Sharrock said: ‘I’m very surprised because I’ve always found my colleagues in senior positions have always been very honest and trustworth, but I’d need to know the comments from the actual individuals.’


Readers' comments (8)

  • Cobblers

    Pigs? Trough?

    They haven't had my money since 1990. (Ken Clarke 'feeling for their wallets' time.)

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  • Snouts in the trough

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  • Avocado with prawns in a Rose Marie sauce
    Boeuf bourguignon (with trimmings)
    Creme Brulee
    Roquefort and other tasty cheeses
    All washed down with Sancerre (or similar), Chateauneuf de Pap (or similar)
    And a small brandy to finish off.
    Then off for a kip in the four poster.
    Sometimes [sic], I 'reflect' that I shouldn't have abandoned the BMA thirty years ago.

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  • Anyone know how much a former chair was paid to compensate for missed private practice? Rumours of 100k seem a little implausible.

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  • To say that the “BMA previously had no formal policy on expenses” just isn’t true. There may well not be a formal policy on expenses for spouses, but I have had various involvements with the BMA over 15 years, and have always claimed expenses in line with clear organisation policy. I also recollect that there is wording in the expenses guidance for the Annual Representative Meeting that says that attendees cannot claim hotel double occupancy expenses for a partner who is not a member of the Representative Body.

    I’m not saying not to call out the BMA if questionable things have been going on, Pulse, but the quote I use above overblows the situation and weakens the criticism.

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  • MP's expenses are in the Public domain, and the BMA welcomes the contractual obligation for GPs to have their income publicised, but keeps it's officers expenses accounts under lock and key.
    Aside from the obvious hypocrisy, what are they hiding?

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  • Quotes from a couple of colleagues -

    "I remember years ago being horrified when travelling to BMA House for a meeting, Easyjet flight and the tube, to meet someone going back there who had charged the BMA for taxis both ends and BA flights. Just absurd. I raised this with a few people but was ignored."

    another colleague -

    "Years and years ago when I was a junior doctor and active within the BMA I reached the heady heights of being on the XYZ committee for the Juniors' Conference. We were eligible for first class rail tickets when going to meetings. I felt that this wasn't right and queried it - I was told 'you can work on the train' and the feeling was given that to question such behaviour was wrong. But it still goes on I'm sure."

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  • Sounds like another swamp that needs draining.

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