Industrial Action Latest: Lansley dismisses pensions 'strike' as 'pointless'

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has made a last-ditch attempt to persuade the BMA to call off tomorrow's planned industrial action over pension changes, calling it 'pointless'.

We are not going to prioritise doctors over every other public sector worker.'
We are not going to prioritise doctors over every other public sector worker.'

Mr Lansley received lukewarm applause after his speech to healthcare managers at today’s NHS Confederation’s annual conference in Manchester this afternoon.

He opened his speech, which focused on integration and patient choice, by calling upon the BMA to abandon its planned industrial action which he referred to as a ‘strike’ several times and said ‘it would achieve nothing’.

Mr Lansley said the pension scheme was not just for doctors but for all NHS workers. He criticised the BMA for allegedly giving doctors hope over the pension changes.

He said: ‘We are not going to prioritise doctors over every other public sector worker when they have one of the most generous pension schemes in the country.

‘What I set out to achieve is a pension that is both affordable and sustainable and is amongst the best anywhere and one that all NHS staff would want to be part of.

‘Other trade unions understood this and negotiated at length with us. I had direct meetings with all the trade unions, including the chairman of the council of the BMA. But the chairman of the BMA pensions committee didn’t turn up to a single one of the meetings, which doesn’t say much about its determination to get a good deal for doctors.’

According to Mr Lansley, if the government left doctors’ pension contribution rates unchanged then a nurse earning £30,000 a year could see their take home pay fall by £100 per month to cover the shortfall.

He said: ‘In seeking a more generous deal for doctors, it is seeking a less fair deal for NHS staff overall. I don’t think that NHS staff or the public will understand or sympathise with this.’

Responding to Mr Lansley’s claims that the BMA pensions committee chairman did not attend pension discussions, a BMA spokesman said: ‘It is completely misleading to continue to imply that the BMA was not committed to negotiations - the BMA was represented at meetings by our usual, full-time pensions lead; all other unions were represented by their equivalent of this post.’

Marina Soteriou

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