Medicopolitical Digest

BMA starts sanctions against Benefits Agency Medical ServicesConsultants continue to criticise underfundingEfficiency savings affect Ulster's health serviceConsultants will review 10% limit on private practice

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 04 January 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:79

The BMA has “black boxed” the Benefits Agency Medical Services because it has been unable to secure improvements in the pay and terms and conditions of service for doctors who work for the services. The agency has been put in the Important Notice in the BMJ which advises doctors to contact the BMA before applying for jobs with the agency.

The BMA council agreed to the sanction after the agency introduced, without consultation, a new form of contract for doctors who are employed on a sessional basis to conduct medical examinations of claimants for benefits, particularly disability benefit, the disabled living allowance, and attendance allowance (2 November 1996, p 1150). The BMA 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. 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 says that there can be no increase in the current year unless it was funded by greater efficiency–that is, doctors would have to do more examinations per session.

Consultants continue to criticise underfunding

Patients continue to be disadvantaged …

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