BMA scraps plan for further industrial action

BMA leaders have shelved plans for a second wave of industrial action over cuts to NHS pensions.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter: industrial action plans on hold
BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter: industrial action plans on hold

Following a BMA council meeting on Wednesday, doctors’ leaders announced that plans for further industrial action had been suspended, and that the union would join other unions in talks with the government over key details of the pension reforms.

BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter said industrial action had never been the profession’s ‘preferred way forward’.

He added that only ‘escalated action’ had any chance of forcing the government to reverse the pensions reforms, and BMA members were not prepared to take such action at this stage.

The BMA will take part in talks on changes that take effect from 2015, including raising the retirement age to 68 and increases to contributions.

Dr Porter said: ‘Last month’s action enabled thousands of doctors to send a strong and clear message to government about how let down they felt, while also honouring their commitment to protect patient safety. Independent research by Ipsos MORI shows that the public were more likely to support doctors in the dispute than the government, and that the majority were confident about our commitment to protect their safety above all else.

‘Industrial action was never our preferred way forward. We would always far prefer to seek changes to the government’s plans for NHS pensions through negotiation and lobbying, rather than taking action that could jeopardise the much valued relationship with our patients.

'We always said that we would review our action in order to determine next steps. Having done that, it is clear that only escalated action has any possibility of causing the government to rethink its whole programme of changes. The BMA and the profession as a whole are unwilling to do that at this point because of the impact on patients.

‘We will not, therefore, plan any further action at this stage and will take part in the talks the government has offered on the detail of the pension changes.’

But he added: ‘Doctors’ anger with the government for tearing up a pensions deal reached only four years ago and which made the scheme sustainable for the future will not just go away. We have not ruled out taking further industrial action in the future and we are committed to continuing to fight for a fairer deal in the longer term.’

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