BMA chairman to meet Lansley for last-ditch pensions talks

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter will meet health secretary Andrew Lansley today for talks on NHS pensions, as doctors' leaders prepare to discuss a second wave of industrial action.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter
BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter

The recently elected BMA chairman will meet Mr Lansley before a BMA Council meeting on Wednesday, but the DH and the BMA were unable to confirm exactly when the meeting would take place.

BMA Council members are expected to discuss the next steps in the union’s fight against reforms to the NHS pension scheme at the Wednesday meeting, including plans for further industrial action.

BMA pensions committee deputy chairman Dr David Bailey said the council's decision on whether to take further industrial action would be influenced by the outcome of the meeting with Mr Lansley.

He said the best outcome would be for the government to return to the negotiating table.

‘We hope to achieve further face-to-face discussions. Basically it’s about seeing if we can reach some sort of settlement in the future,’ Dr Bailey said.

Dr Bailey said he was hopeful of a positive outcome because the government needed to keep doctors on side in order to successfully implement the Health Act.  ‘The secretary of state is going to want to work with the profession not against it.

Dr Porter targeted fresh pensions talks with the government when he was elected BMA chairman at the union's annual representatives meeting last month.

He said: ‘It was clear from the debates at our annual meeting today that doctors remain angry at the government for tearing up a pensions deal reached only four years ago and which made the scheme sustainable for the future.

‘Our preferred option has always been to find a fairer way forward through negotiation and I want to explore that with the secretary of state for health. I will be writing to him to seek an urgent meeting.’

Last month Mr Lansley wrote to the NHS Staff Council to set out the government's plans to press ahead with NHS pension reforms and the DH confirmed that the letter represented the government position.

A DH spokeswoman said the department had no plans to negotiate separately with doctors on NHS pension scheme reforms.

Dr Bailey said Dr Porter would discuss key issues such as the NHS reforms and revalidation in addition to pensions reform with Mr Lansley.

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