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Revealed: GMC pays £280,000 a year on private health insurance for its staff

Exclusive The GMC spends approximately £280,000 a year on providing private medical insurance to almost 500 of its staff, Pulse can reveal.

Information released by the GMC this week shows the regulator, which receives the vast majority of its funding from doctors’ fees, has offered its employees private medical insurance since 1997, and now provides it to 480 of its 640 permanent staff across the UK, at an average cost of £583 per employee.

GPs currently pay £420 a year to the GMC for ‘annual retention fees’, although Pulse revealed last month that the fee will be cut for the first time in the regulator’s history in April, to £390 a year. GMC papers show an estimated £91.5m of its £96.6m income for 2012 is expected to come from doctors’ retention fees and registrations.

The GMC said its spending on private medical insurance is ‘kept under regular review’ and will be reviewed by its resources committee later this year. But grassroots GPs questioned the payments.

Dr Dermot Ryan, a GP in Loughborough, said: ‘I wonder how the GMC can justify this expense. The majority of membership of the GMC is now made up of people that are not doctors, who have little comprehension of medicine or the difficulty in providing medical services.’

‘They seem to be going down the Government gravy train of awarding themselves luxuries that the people who provide their salaries can’t afford themselves.’

‘I’m looking forward to the day when we have a vote of no confidence in the GMC.’

The issue was also flagged up on the social networking site Twitter by Dr Jonathan Tomlinson, a GP in Hackney, east London, and Dr Phil Hammond, a medical columnist and GP in Bristol.

‘Why does the GMC give its staff private medical cover?’ asked Dr Hammond. ‘Is the NHS that bad? Are muggins doctors paying for it? Yes.’

A spokesperson for the GMC said the spending equated to just 0.7% of its full staffing costs.

‘Like many organisations, we offer a range of benefits to attract and retain staff,’ she said. ‘Staff who make a claim pay an excess of £250 to keep costs at an acceptable level.’