BMA begins offering private medical insurance to all staff
The BMA has recently begun offering private medical insurance to all its staff as part of a salary exchange scheme, which the body claims does not contradict the association’s support for a publicly funded NHS.
The association says it has introduced a policy by which employees can exchange part of their salary for private medical cover.
A BMA spokesperson said the policy does not result in any costs to the BMA and is an staff member’s individual choice.
They also clarified that the BMA chair Dr Mark Porter, the BMA Council and the GPC are not provided with private health insurance.
The news comes after Pulse first reported in April that the BMA admitted it offers private medical insurance to a small number of ‘very senior staff’ in order to attract suitably experienced employees.
Pulse also revealed that the GMC spent £255,000 on private medical insurance for almost two thirds of its staff this year, after a review of the policy concluded it was needed to attract and retain quality staff.
BMA treasurer Dr Andrew Dearden, a GP in Cardiff, said that the policy was not in opposition to their warnings over opening up the NHS to private companies.
He said: ‘The BMA only offers private medical insurance as part of our remuneration packages to a very small number of the BMA’s most senior staff members.
‘The option to purchase private medical insurance has recently been added to the salary exchange scheme where employees can, if they wish, exchange part of their salary at their own expense for private medical cover. This does not result in any costs to the BMA and is an staff member’s individual choice.
‘No director of the BMA has private health care provided to them by the BMA.’
He added: ‘The BMA vigorously fights to defend the values of the NHS, including the principle that all patients should have access to free, high quality healthcare. This is a central cornerstone of our health system that rightly is source of pride for the public and clinicians.
‘The BMA does not however oppose all private medicine which has been a small part of the UK health sector for decades. What we do oppose is the potential damage that could be done by opening up NHS services, which all members of our society rely on, to greater competitive tendering as this raises a multitude of pitfalls that could fragment patient care and undermine the care delivered to patients.
‘It is this ill-thought-out policy that has ramifications for all parts of the NHS that doctors and patients should be concerned about.’
Dr Kambiz Boomla, former chair of City and East London LMC, called the policy ‘absolutely nuts’.
He said: ‘It’s quite wrong. What kind of message does it send out to anybody observing what’s happening to the NHS at the moment?’
‘The BMA should be fighting to defend the NHS and fighting privatisation. Offering private medical insurance is counter-productive to the BMA’s stance on the NHS.’