GPs in Scotland face full weight of UK pension reforms

The BMA has accused the Scottish government of being 'unable to negotiate' after talks failed to protect GPs in Scotland from UK pension reforms.

BMA accuses Scottish government of being unable to negotiate on pensions.
BMA accuses Scottish government of being unable to negotiate on pensions.

In May last year the Scottish government entered talks with the BMA and other unions to discuss how they could protect NHS workers from public sector pension reforms imposed by the UK government.

However the NHS pensions working group of the NHS Scotland terms and conditions committee (STAC), which was set up to hold the discussions, has now closed after unions announced further negotiations would be pointless.

The BMA has accused the Scottish government of being unable to negotiate after it failed to protect doctors in Scotland from UK pension reforms.

Martin Woodrow, national secretary of BMA Scotland, said: ‘The BMA, along with the other health trade unions in Scotland, have decided not to continue with the Scottish-level talks on NHS pensions.  

‘At a meeting this week it was agreed that there was little point in pursuing separate negotiations on changes in light of the Scottish government's inability to negotiate on any significant detail of the reform proposals.  

‘Tinkering around the edges will do little to mitigate the most damaging elements of the UK-wide pension reforms.’

Public sector union Unite also accused the Scottish government of failing to protect workers from plans which would ‘wreak havoc’ with NHS pensions.

Unite regional industrial officer Gordon Casey said: ‘As it stands NHS workers in Scotland will now suffer the same attacks on their pensions as colleagues in the rest of the UK – pay more, work longer and get less.

‘Unite refuses to accept Danny Alexander’s cuts agenda but we believed the Scottish government had an opportunity to defend these pensions in the face of the coalition’s austerity measures and we still do.’

A Scottish government spokeswoman said: ‘The punitive financial penalties which Scotland would face for failing to increase employee contributions and the limitations which the UK public services pensions bill place around normal pension age have severely constrained Scotland’s room for manoeuvre with regard to public sector pensions.  

‘However, we remain committed to taking a partnership approach on this issue and whilst the NHS Scotland pension negotiating group has been discontinued it has been agreed that discussions on Scottish NHS pensions can continue through the already existing Scottish pensions group, which all Scottish healthcare unions feed into.’

In November last year BMA Scotland ruled out strike action over pension reforms.

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