BMA criticises Benefits Agency Medical ServiceAll GPs should be involved in commissioningBMA continues work on human rightsPractising in Europe(pounds sterling)100m could be injected into GP premisesCrossing professional boundariesBMJ 1996; 313 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.313.7065.1150 (Published 02 November 1996) Cite this as: BMJ 1996;313:1150
- Linda Beecham
BMA criticises Benefits Agency Medical Service
The BMA has been trying unsuccessfully for several months to secure improvements in the pay and terms and conditions of service for doctors working for the Benefits Agency Medical Service. If progress has not been made by 1 December the BMA council has agreed that members should be advised not to offer their services to the agency. From that date the agency will be included in the Important Notice in the BMJ. This means that doctors who are applying to work for the agency will be advised of the drawbacks.
Many doctors are contracted on a sessional basis to conduct medical examinations of claimants for benefits, particularly disability benefit, the disabled living allowance, and attendance allowance. A new form of contract has recently been issued without consultation. The BMA has objected to the fact that there is no notice of termination of contract, no disciplinary or grievance procedure, and no payment when sessions are cancelled. Doctors are required to provide their own indemnity, and the service has withdrawn the provision of chaperones to accompany doctors during examinations. This is despite the high number of complaints as the doctor is seen as the agent of the agency in withholding benefit.
In addition the service receives reports from general practitioners on a fee paid basis and has refused to accept the BMA's upgraded rate for these fees. The last pay settlement was from 1 April 1995, and the service …