BMA draws up final pensions industrial action ballot plan

BMA roadshows will start next week to set out plans to ballot members for the first time since 1975 on industrial action over cuts to NHS pensions.

Dr David Bailey: 'We are finalising the advice for different crafts at the moment.'
Dr David Bailey: 'We are finalising the advice for different crafts at the moment.'

GPs could refuse to offer booked appointments for a day if industrial action goes ahead, according to the BMA.

The BMA is set to ballot members from 15 to 29 May on two questions - whether doctors are prepared to strike, and whether they are prepared to take action short of a full strike.

The ballot will go ahead unless the government re-enters talks on planned pension reforms. BMA members will be asked to vote in favour of both full strike action and action short of a strike to protect against a legal challenge.

Deputy chairman of the BMA pensions committee Dr David Bailey said: 'Strikes are interpreted very broadly in the law. We will ask for a "yes" to both questions, but there is no question of BMA members taking what most people would consider as strike action, which is not going to work. That is not going to happen.'

Dr Bailey added that by the time BMA roadshows start, the advice on how different branches of the profession could take part in industrial action would be fairly clear.

'We are finalising the advice for different crafts at the moment. That is being scrutinised by the lawyers,' he said.

The BMA has said decisions about what could be postponed safely will be based on the judgment of doctors locally.

GP practices could remain open for patients in need of urgent attention, but routine, non-urgent appointments would not be available. In hospitals the action is likely to mean postponing routine appointments.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'We're taking this step very reluctantly and only because the government will not engage with us to try to find a fairer way forward.'

Health minister Simon Burns said: 'There is no justification for well-paid doctors to take industrial action.'

abi.rimmer@haymarket.com

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