Pension-row doctors back more militant strike action
DOCTORS have voted for more strikes as part of their continued battle against pension reforms.
• Medics in favour of “stronger action” which would see them refuse to turn up for work on future strike days
unless they are providing emergency care
• Motion of ‘no confidence’ in Westminster’s Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley
They are also in favour of “stronger action” which would see them refuse to turn up for work on future strike days, unless they are providing emergency care.
The majority of doctors at the British Medical Association’s (BMA) annual conference in Bournemouth yesterday voted in favour of seven emergency motions relating to strike action.
However, they stopped short of demanding the union’s leaders now name a day for action.
Doctors also passed a motion of no confidence in Westminster health secretary Andrew Lansley, and called for him to resign.
Dundee-based junior doctor Alan Robertson, chair of the UK BMA pensions committee, said: “The UK government decided to renege on this carefully negotiated deal in order to get NHS staff to help solve the current economic problems, much of which was caused by the banks.
“Let me be absolutely clear – the changes they are proposing are nothing to do with the funding of the scheme, they just want your cash and they want it now.”
He added: “These changes significantly worsen the NHS pension scheme. They link the normal pension age to the state pension age – raising it to 68 for many of us younger members, potentially even later should the state pension age rise further in the future.
“Our message to government is simple: all we want is to be treated fairly and to have a reasonable dialogue on our pensions, something that has been sadly lacking so far.
“The NHS scheme is in a healthy state, and deserves not to be lumped in with other public sector schemes that are not in such a healthy state.”
Mr Lansley said: “Earlier this week, the BMA heard from their outgoing chair that further industrial action could undermine their relationship with patients and the public – already, many of the BMA’s members chose to put patients before pensions and decided not to take action on 21 June.
“Our proposals are fair to staff and to the taxpayer and mean that the NHS pension scheme will remain one of the best anywhere. But we cannot prioritise doctors over all the other health workers – nurses, physiotherapists, paramedics, porters – when they have one of the most generous pension schemes in the country.”
Doctors urged BMA leaders to “consider a range of options in defence of our pensions” including “withdrawal from clinical commissioning activity” and “in secondary care, withdrawal of labour with emergency cover only”.
Even though the motions were passed by delegates, under BMA rules only the council can authorise industrial action.
Just over 3,800 operations across Scotland were cancelled when doctors took industrial action for the first time in 37 years earlier this month.
The Scottish Government has said it remains in talks with the doctors over the changes being imposed by Westminster.
Chair of the Scottish Council of the BMA, Brian Keighley, has called on health secretary Nicola Sturgeon to consider using public money in the form of the Scottish block grant to top-up Scottish NHS staff’s pensions.
He has warned that doctors in Scotland will take part in more industrial action unless the Scottish Government shows it is willing to overrule Westminster’s changes to pension arrangements.
About 10,000 practising doctors are BMA members in Scotland.
Another day of action could see doctors running a Christmas Day-style skeleton service with only emergency services operating, doctors heard yesterday.
It was also proposed that further industrial action by the BMA should be co-ordinated with other unions to maximise its impact.
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Sunday 26 May 2013
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