Doctors go on strike over pension reforms
Doctors will finally go on strike across the UK as they were told that they would have to pay up to double the normal amount for their pensions.
The British Medical Association (BMA) council took the decision after a majority voted for industrial action on 21st June, giving the green light to the suspension of non-emergency treatment on this day.
The strike, the first since 1975, will be the first of several such actions to highlight the neo-liberal reform of the NHS through measures such as the Health and Social Care Act passed in Parliament last March.
BMA anger at attempts to make the lot of doctors even harder comes as they revealed that the current pension scheme already operates on a surplus of £2billion which goes back into the public coffers every year. “The latest changes will see doctors paying up to 14.5 per cent of their salaries in pension contributions – twice as much as some other public sector staff on a similar salary in order to receive a similar pension. They will also have to work longer to receive their pension – up to 68 for younger doctors.” said the BMA in a statement.
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.”
Dr Meldrum said that while non-urgent work would be postponed they would at all times 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,” he said
The BMA will also run its 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.
Things have already turned nasty for the Government as they apply the infamous austerity measures on public services with the next reform to face the NHS being a national contract with terms and conditions being applied to every doctor in Britain. A mass demonstration by 30,000 police officers earlier this spring and Andrew Langsley’s embarrassing speech to the Royal College of Nursing have stepped up pressure on Government attempts to privatise public services.
Dr Meldrum pointed out that doctors do not take the decision to strike lightly: “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.”
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