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The News Line: News DOCTORS STRIKE TODAY!
Baby Zoe and mother outside Chase Farm Hospital on the 112th day of the picket of the hospital to keep it open in defence of the NHS. Everybody on the picket line supported the doctors’ struggle to defend their pensions
DOCTORS are on strike in defence of their pensions all over the country today.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chair of the BMA’s council, said: ‘Doctors are now being asked to work even longer, up to 68 years of age, and contribute even more, meaning doctors have to pay up to twice as much as civil servants on the same pay for the same pension.’

BMA Council Member Anna Athow, told News Line: ‘This is an historic day for the BMA, the first time strike action has been called for almost 40 years and involving all four main branches of practice; GPs, consultants, junior doctors and Associate Specialists.

‘The membership gave a 50% response rate to the ballot and a huge 70% Yes/Yes for strike action, which is taking the form of emergencies only service for 24 hours.

‘The reason for this huge mandate, is not just anger over pensions – increased contributions, the pensions cut, the end of the final salary scheme and working to 68 years, but the huge concern over the NHS itself.

‘Massive changes are being forced through on the back of the Health and Social Care Act, which together with the £20bn cuts are causing huge disorganisation, staff reductions, break up and outsourcing of services and denial of proper care for patients. The vast majority of doctors oppose privatisation of the NHS.’

Other health unions spoke out in support of their BMA colleagues yesterday.

A GMB spokeswoman told News Line: ‘The GMB offers solidarity messages for all those taking action in defence of their pensions and for dignity in retirement.

‘It’s all fine and well condemning doctors for striking, but the NHS deal is probably one of the worst deals on the table.’

Unite said its members will be showing solidarity with the BMA doctors today – leafleting, joining picket lines and attending lunchtime meetings.

Unite’s head of health Rachael Maskell said: ‘The doctors’ fight should be seen in the context of NHS pensions generally which are not generous.

‘Half of NHS employees will receive at or below £4,087 per year when they retire. Many NHS employees are women whose pensions would have been reduced by career breaks.

‘The government’s arbitrarily imposed pensions changes will mean NHS employees paying more, working until the age of 68 and receiving less once they retire.

‘The average Unite NHS member is paying an average £30-a-month more in contributions.

‘This needs to be seen against the current two-year public sector pay freeze which has meant substantial cuts in income for NHS workers and reductions to other terms and conditions, at a time of soaring household bills.’
 
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