BMA to fight NHS pension age rise

The BMA has announced it will step up its fight against government plans to link the NHS pension age to the state pension age.

Dr Bailey: it is unreasonable to ask all doctors in all specialties to carry on working up to 68 (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)
Dr Bailey: it is unreasonable to ask all doctors in all specialties to carry on working up to 68 (Photograph: Jason Heath Lancy)

The renewed campaign comes as an exclusive GP survey has found that more than a third of GPs would be prepared to take further industrial action against pension reforms.

The GP magazine survey of 790 GPs found that 36% would be prepared to take industrial
action short of a strike if the BMA decided to take further action over pension reforms.

A further 38% said they would be prepared to refuse to co-operate with commissioning activities and 14% said they would be prepared to take part in full strike action – a move the BMA has ruled out.

The BMA has put further strike action on hold at this stage, but its pensions committee deputy chairman Dr David Bailey said the union would step up its campaign against a higher NHS pension age.

Under the government’s final agreement for the new NHS pension scheme, which takes effect in 2015, the scheme’s normal pension age will equal the state pension age. By 2044, doctors could be working until they are 68 years old.

Dr Bailey said it was unreasonable to ask all doctors in every specialty to carry on working up to 68. ‘I wouldn’t suggest anybody isn’t able to do their job at 68, but there are a proportion of doctors who won’t be able to.’

Dr Bailey warned there were potential patient safety issues around asking all doctors to work longer. ‘Having a blanket retirement age makes no sense,’ he said.

He added that the BMA would like to see the link between the normal and state pension ages removed. Failing that, the union would like to see some provision to allow doctors to change the way they work as they near retirement, he said.

The BMA will be taking part in a DH ‘working longer review’ this autumn to discuss matters to do with increasing the retirement age.

However, Dr Bailey said that the BMA still needed to campaign against the changes: ‘It’s important that the BMA and other unions get these issues into the public domain.’

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