Viewpoint: BMA members must lobby MPs on pensions

Writing for GPonline.com, BMA head of pensions Andy Blake argues that BMA members must begin lobbying MPs now to make the point that NHS pension reforms are unfair.

BMA: campaign asking members to lobby MPs
BMA: campaign asking members to lobby MPs

Scottish hospital doctors are about to be balloted on strike action on pensions, but industrial action isn’t the only thing on our minds at BMA House. As well as taking part in talks (the BMA is represented on the review group looking at the impact of working longer, for example)  we’ve just embarked on a new lobbying push.

Last month saw publication of the Public Service Pensions Bill – a complex and far-reaching piece of legislation, which would grant the government sweeping new powers, potentially allowing it to subject public sector workers’ pensions to yet more 'reform' in future.

To broadly sum up the impact on doctors, if the Bill becomes an Act, the disparities which hit you the hardest will pass into statute. We’ve just published an in-depth analysis of public sector pension reform, which looks at those disparities in forensic detail.

It shows how there are three forms of unfairness in the government’s approach:

  • Lack of fairness in the overall approach to public sector pension reform such as the fact that the government has ignored the huge changes that were agreed in 2008 – in particular to NHS pensions, and seems to have forgotten that it is already generating £250 billion worth of savings by 2060 by changing the indexation method from RPI to CPI.
  • Lack of fairness across public sector schemes, with many NHS staff paying a higher proportion of their pension benefits than workers elsewhere in the public sector.  This hits doctors particularly hard, with the highest earners paying almost twice as much as civil servants.
  • Lack of fairness within the NHS pension scheme, such as the fact that higher paid NHS staff will get much less from the scheme per pound invested than lower paid workers once there is a move to a career average revalued earnings (CARE) scheme in 2015 - if the steep contribution tiers are maintained.

So our task now is to get those messages across to MPs, and we can’t do that without you.  If you’re a BMA member - and not one of the thousand who have already done so - please log in to the website and use our new lobbying tool to contact your MP. It literally takes seconds. Whatever your views on other forms of action, I’m sure you’ll agree that we shouldn’t let this unfairness go unchallenged in parliament.

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