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BMA Hypocrisy Over Private Insurance

Health insurance hypocrisyThe British Medical Association (BMA) has been accused of shady practices and hypocrisy after offering private medical insurance policies to all of its staff members. This is all despite having opposed government reforms to create a more competitive insurance market for healthcare. Doctors have a trade union – they have introduced a policy which allows almost 900 employees to exchange a cut of their wages for private health insurance. These policies have been criticised for offering free health insurance to a small niche of senior staff as a part of their remuneration. Treasurer Dr Andrew Dearden, a GP in Cardiff, said: “There has been no conflict between the new scheme and the BMA’s opposition to government reforms to open up the market in the health service to bring in more private companies.”

The trade union has attempted to campaign against the changes that have been introduced by the coalition. They made changes in order to increase the competition for NHS contracts. The BMA have released figures to show that these changes will lead to the privatisation of services. Dr Dearden added: “The union decided to offer the perk to its own employees from next month in order to enhance the benefits available to staff. 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.”

Another argument against the changes is the fact that the employees in question are exchanging a part of their salary for the added perk of private health insurance, and is an individual choice made by staff members. However, the BMA has declined to reveal how many of their 885 staff had taken up the offer. Dr Margaret McCartney, a Glasgow GP and medical commentator, said: “I am appalled by the new stance, it is immoral and hypocritical. What is the public to make of this? The BMA that speaks to highly of the NHS, yet when it comes down to their own staff, they encourage them that they shouldn’t trust it? I think there is a total conflict between their policies on the NHS reforms and this decision.” Other GPs have been quoted as calling the policy ‘absolutely nuts’. Dr Kambiz Boomla said: “It’s quite wrong. 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.”

James Savery, 23 August 2013

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