Exclusive The BMA has admitted it offers private medical insurance to a small number of ‘very senior staff’ in order to attract suitably experienced employees.
The association confirmed that a small number of senior of staff are offered the optional perk, but said they could not reveal exactly how many staff had accepted the offer, or how much was spent on it annually as this was ‘confidential business information.’
But they did confirm that Dr Mark Porter, BMA chair, does not personally receive this benefit.
A BMA spokesperson said: ‘Private medical insurance has been offered only to the few very senior members of staff as part of their remuneration package. It is an optional benefit.
‘The remuneration package ensures that we are able to continue to attract very senior members of staff by offering benefits that you might expect from similar roles in similar organisations.’
The news comes after Pulse 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.
NHS England, the CQC and the RCGP told Pulse they do not offer staff such benefits.
Dr Andrew Mimnagh, chair of Sefton LMC, said he was very surprised by the news that the BMA was offering this benefit to staff.
He said: ‘As I recall, the annual conference of LMCs were very scathing of the GMC’s actions. It was not a popular move for the GMC, but the scathing eye of the grassroots conference did obviously not extend its look to the BMA executive as they were lining their back pockets.
‘It’s superficially embarrassing and hypocritical. It would be helpful for them to clarify why, beyond recruitment, this is needed.
‘I don’t want to be represented by an organisation who imply the NHS is a secondary substandard service and we should all go out and buy private medical insurance immediately.’
However, Dr John Grenville, medical secretary of Derbyshire LMC, said this was probably a business decision made to prevent losses through illness
He said: ‘It’s always very difficult. Any business has to make a decision on the cost of this thing versus the cost of people having time off and having to backfill their work, so it must have come down to a purely business decision.
‘As an ordinary member of the BMA I guess it keeps my membership fees down and allows them to continue their services so I will support it on those grounds.’