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GMC defends spending £250k on private health insurance perk for staff

Exclusive The GMC spent £255k on private medical insurance for almost two-thirds of its staff in 2012/13, after a review of the policy concluded it was needed to attract and retain staff.

Pulse has learnt that the GMC spent an average of £458 on private medical insurance from AXA PPP Healthcare for each member of staff given the perk, in a move that has been criticised by some GPs.

The GMC has given the benefit to 554 of its 839 staff, but told Pulse the policy would be reviewed later this year.

There was outcry from GPs when Pulse first revealed a spend of £287,773 for 474 staff on private health insurance in 2011/12, but the outlay is falling year-on-year, with a total of £319,937 spent on insurance for 485 staff in 2010/11.

The GMC said a review by the Resources Committee last year decided the perk helped attract and retain good quality staff at the organisation.

A GMC spokesperson said: ‘Like many organisations, we offer a range of benefits to attract and retain staff. We need to offer a competitive benefits package to recruit and retain the best possible staff from across the private, public and not for profit sectors.

‘We have offered private medical insurance to our staff since 1997. As with all our staff benefits, this is reviewed regularly, as it was in 2012.’

But Dr Tony Grewal, medical director of Londonwide LMCs, said the use of subscriptions in this way was inappropriate.

He said: ‘The GMC came into existence at the request of doctors through the BMA. It exists by virtue through subscriptions.

‘It should not be offering perks - staff should be offered a fair salary which allows them to spend their hard-earned money on whatever they choose, including private medical insurance if they so desire. They’ve forgotten who pays their money, and it’s us.’

But Dr Peter Swinyard, chairman of the Family Doctors Association, said he was not against the perk as it could help reduce the burden on the NHS.

He said: ‘When you want to hire good staff you need to offer good packages of renumeration. Even in general practice we offer our management free private healthcare. It pays for itself in terms of time away from work.

‘I don’t think it’s a dereliction of the NHS because every time someone sees a private doctor they don’t see an NHS doctor and it frees up that time for someone in the NHS.’

GMC spend on private healthcare

2012/13 - £254,021

2011/12 - £287,773

2010/11 - £319, 937

Source: GMC