Stuart Harvey Insurance Brokers claims that it has saved the Thames Valley Police 78 years' worth of NHS waiting time over the past year.

The Hook-based brokerage operates a scheme called Optima, in which it administers the police service's health budget.

Stuart Harvey arranges private treatment for officers so they do not have to wait for treatment on the NHS.

Scheme administrator Steve Ferris says the Hertfordshire, Norfolk and Bedfordshire police services also used the scheme.

He said it opened up spaces in the NHS for other patients, improved police morale with speedier returns to work and lessened the amount of overtime expense in covering the officers' absence.

Ferris estimated the scheme saved the Thames Valley service £1.8m in the past 12 months. Its outlay was £300,000.

He said officers with routine knee or back injuries could be back at work in six weeks, compared with the 18 months it could take on the NHS.