Industrial action looms as BMA rejects government pension offer

BMA leaders have formally rejected the government's latest offer on reforms to the NHS pension scheme after a poll of more than 46,000 doctors confirmed overwhelming opposition to the changes.

Dr Meldrum said: 'Doctors feel let down and betrayed, and for many this is the final straw'
Dr Meldrum said: 'Doctors feel let down and betrayed, and for many this is the final straw'

BMA Council announced on Wednesday that the union had written to the government asking it to urgently rethink its proposals for the NHS pension scheme, which involve increasing the retirement age and higher contribution rates.

A total of 84% of respondents to the BMA poll said the proposals should be rejected and 63% said they would personally be prepared to take industrial action to pursue changes to the proposals.

More than a third (36%) of doctors aged 50 and over say they intend to retire early if the changes go ahead.

A total of 55% of GPs who responded to the poll said they were prepared to take some form of industrial action, including 17% who said they were prepared to take full strike action.

The BMA is now working on detailed plans for industrial action. An emergency meeting of BMA Council will be held on 25 February to decide on the options for balloting on industrial action, should there not be a significant change in the government’s position.

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said: 'The strength and scale of feeling among doctors is abundantly clear - they feel let down and betrayed, and for many this is the final straw.

‘Industrial action remains a last resort and the government must urgently reconsider its damaging plans. The action we are considering is unprecedented in recent decades. This demonstrates the current level of discontent among NHS staff.’

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey said the survey had given an ‘overwhelmingly clear message’ that members were prepared to take industrial action.

‘It cannot be ignored either by the BMA or the government,’ he said. Although the BMA hope the government would enter into meaningful discussion on pensions, the BMA would honour its members wishes and ballot for industrial action if it did not.

Dr Vautrey said that all decisions about what form industrial action could take or when a ballot would happen would be made at the BMA Council meeting in February.

‘There are various option for the form industrial action could take, members could be balloted by craft or as a whole, there are a whole variety of options,’ he said.

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