Pension changes will cause 'crisis' in NHS, says BMA chairman

Meddling with doctors' pensions will create a crisis in the NHS, the chairman of the BMA has warned the government.

Dr Meldrum: protecting doctors’ pensions (Photograph: Haymarket Medical/MCG)
Dr Meldrum: protecting doctors’ pensions (Photograph: Haymarket Medical/MCG)

Speaking at the opening of the BMA’s Annual Representatives Meeting (ARM) in Brighton on Monday, Dr Hamish Meldrum said the government should not underestimate the BMA when it comes to protecting doctors’ jobs and pensions.

He said: ‘I’ve said that we should be reasonable and responsible when it comes to pay but don’t underestimate us when it comes to protecting doctors’ jobs and pensions.

‘On these, I will not be reasonable if, being reasonable means accepting cuts in the number of doctors or reneging on the recently agreed, revised pension arrangements for NHS staff.’

Dr Meldrum added: ‘Only two years ago we reached an agreement which raised the age of retirement to 65, capped the contributions of the government, increased the contributions by the higher paid and put the NHS scheme on a sensible and affordable footing for the future. I am not someone who easily resorts to threats, but I warn the government – in a spirit of cooperation and being helpful - if you really want a crisis in the NHS, start meddling with the NHS pension scheme.’

Dr Meldrum also called for tighter controls to ensure doctors from overseas wanting to work in the UK meet the appropriate standards of language and competence.

He said it was not acceptable for 'poorly trained, badly regulated doctors' to be able to practise 'virtually unchallenged' in the UK. 

‘My sympathy goes out to the family of David Gray, but sympathy is not enough. We must ensure that the doctors who treat our patients are competent to do so, that they have the necessary language skills and that they are subject to the same regulation as UK doctors,’ he said.

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