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.’