Pension industrial action ballot opens for Scotland's hospital doctors

Hospital doctors in Scotland are being balloted today on industrial action over pension changes.

Dr Nikki Thompson: 'The intransigence of this Scottish government has left us with little option.'

GPs will be excluded from the ballot, which closes on 28 November, after the Scottish GPC asked for them not to be included when the UK BMA council gave permission for the action to go ahead, in September.

GPs and other BMA members took part in industrial action on pensions on 21 June for the first time in 40 years.

Chairman of GPC Scotland Dr Alan McDevitt wrote to all BMA member GPs in Scotland, explaining why GPs will not be balloted. He said that the mandate from GPs was not as clear as the one from hospital doctors.

The results of the ballot are due to be considered at a meeting of the BMA’s UK council on 28 November.

Should the ballot give the go-ahead for action, the first strike day would take place on 12 December with further days planned for 8 and 17 January 2013. BMA Scotland has warned that further days of action could follow.

The Scottish government has the authority to amend some aspects of the NHS pension scheme in Scotland, including employee contribution levels.

Deputy chairwoman of the BMA’s Scottish consultants committee, Dr Nikki Thompson, said: ‘This is not where we set out to be, strike action is only ever a last resort but the intransigence of this Scottish government has left us with little option but to press ahead with a ballot for further industrial action.

‘With their outspoken opposition to these plans and a commitment to negotiations, ministers have raised the expectations of NHS staff. The Scottish government says that it is negotiating in good faith, yet has been unable to provide clarity on the scope of these negotiations or come up with any genuine alternative to the English proposals. This is a government that is talking up its opposition, but failing to deliver on these words.

‘Doctors believe that these changes to the NHS pension scheme are unnecessary and unfair. NHS schemes were reformed just four years ago. Despite this agreement, endorsed by the Scottish government, the planned increases to NHS staff contributions will see a 6% rise on current contributions, meaning that senior NHS staff will be paying almost double the contributions of senior civil servants, for similar pensions.’

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