UK Doctors to Take Industrial Action
30 May 2012 (PLANSPONSOREurope.com) - UK doctors are to take industrial action for the first time in almost 40 years over changes to the NHS pension scheme, the British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed.
Action is set to take pla
ce on 21 June 2012 and will see doctors providing all urgent and emergency care, but postponing non-urgent cases.
BMA Council says it made the decision after considering the results of its ballots on industrial action which revealed a “clear” majority of: GPs; consultants; junior doctors; staff, associate specialist and speciality doctors, and public health and community health doctors said they were prepared to take part in both industrial action short of a strike and a strike, while a majority of occupational medicine doctors voted against industrial action.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: “We are taking this step very reluctantly, and would far prefer to negotiate for a fairer solution. But this clear mandate for action – on a very high turnout – reflects just how let down doctors feel by the government’s unwillingness to find a fairer approach to the latest pension changes and its refusal to acknowledge the major reforms of 2008 that made the NHS scheme sustainable in the long term.
“Non-urgent work will be postponed and, although this will be disruptive to the NHS, doctors will ensure patient safety is protected. All urgent and emergency care will be provided and we will work closely with managers so that anyone whose care is going to be affected can be given as much notice as possible. Patients do not need to do anything now.
“We will also run our own publicity campaign to make sure that members of the public understand what the action will involve and how they can find out what it might mean for them and their families.
“This is not a step that doctors take lightly – this is the first industrial action doctors have taken since 1975. We have consistently argued that the Government should reconsider its position, and even at this stage we would much prefer to negotiate a fairer deal than to take action. We are not seeking preferential treatment but fair treatment. The government’s wholesale changes to an already reformed NHS pension scheme cannot be justified.”
Malcolm McLean, consultant, Barnett Waddingham said doctors will
probably have little option but to come to terms with the need for further changes to their scheme beyond those introduced in 2008.
“Continuing increases to average life expectancy has called into question the cost and long term affordability of all public sector pension schemes and the doctors cannot really claim special treatment in that respect.
And according to Zoe Lynch, partner at law firm Sacker & Partners could find the UK public could show little sympathy for their pensions plight.
“Doctors will continue to have the benefit of high quality, guaranteed salary-related pension arrangements which are no longer generally available in the private sector. I suspect the limited industrial action now contemplated may not command much public support and is unlikely to persuade the Government to offer any further significant concessions in the present economic climate.”
“The switch from defined benefit to defined contribution over the last few years started as a trickle but has become a flood, at the last count only 18% of DB schemes in the private sector remain open to new employees. Doctors classing themselves "unfairly targeted" by the changes in the public sector may find a lack of sympathy from a person waiting for a hip replacement operation, especially when that person may be on the state pension of £107.45 a week. To put it into perspective - to provide the average £48,000 annual pension for a doctor, a person in the private sector would need £800,000 worth of pension saving based on today's annuity rates.”