BMA plans to ballot GPs as Treasury halts pensions talks

The BMA is pursuing its plans to ballot GPs after the Treasury ended discussions with health unions on the new NHS pension scheme to be introduced from 2015.

Dr Hamish Meldrum: 'We have little choice but to continue with our plans to ballot doctors.'
Dr Hamish Meldrum: 'We have little choice but to continue with our plans to ballot doctors.'

Following the announcement the DH published its final offer for the NHS pension scheme.

A spokeswoman for the Treasury said little has changed since the Head of Agreement deal was published late last year. However some additional scheme details have been added, including clarification on death in service benefits and options for members to contribute more in order to top up their pension if they choose to retire early.

The Treasury said: ‘These proposed final agreements remain in line with the approach set out in Lord Hutton’s report and will mean that public service pensions remain among the very best available.’

Reacting to the announcement BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum said that the government had not entered meaningful talks with the union and therefore BMA's position on balloting members for industrial action remained unchanged.

He said: 'We still want the government to return to meaningful talks about the substance of their proposals – in particular the very substantial and unfair contribution increases and the age to which doctors will need to work to claim their full pension. Without a commitment to such talks and given the very clearly expressed views of our members, we have little choice but to continue with our plans to ballot doctors.

'We will continue to take every possible step to ensure that, whatever action is taken, it does not cause harm to patients and as such have ruled out strike action.'

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: ‘Following the conclusion of extensive discussions with all health unions, we are now able to publish the full and final details of the fair pension offer first set out last year.

'The government has worked with trades unions and employers to ensure that NHS staff who dedicate their lives to treating us continue to receive a pension which is amongst the best available, as well as being fair to the taxpayer. Pension reform is necessary because people are living longer, healthier lives.

‘The proposed final agreement will protect all those within 10 years of their pension age from any further change. Most low and middle earners working a full career to their new pension age will receive pension benefits at least as good, if not better, than they get now.’

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation said: ‘After intensive and at times challenging discussions, it is right that NHS staff now have the opportunity to thoroughly consider the costs, benefits and features of the NHS pension proposals and what it means for them now and in the future. We all owe it to staff to move beyond the headlines into the bones of the schemes.’

A Treasury spokeswoman said the government would now be working on the implementation of the scheme and introducing legislation.

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