DOCTORS will take strike action in defence of their NHS pension scheme on Thursday June 21st, the BMA confirmed yesterday, following an overwhelming YES strike ballot result. The first doctors’ strike for nearly 40 years will see them postponing all but urgent and emergency care, the BMA Council announced.
It reported that a clear majority of doctors said they were prepared to take part in both strike action and industrial action short of a strike.
A total 104,544 members were balloted across six separate ballots and overall there was a 50% turnout. GPs voted 63% in favour of strike action, consultants 73% in favour and junior doctors voted by a massive 81% in favour of strike action.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, announced: ‘We are taking this step very reluctantly, and would far prefer to negotiate for a fairer solution. But this clear mandate for action – on a very high turnout – reflects just how let down doctors feel by the government’s unwillingness to find a fairer approach to the latest pension changes and its refusal to acknowledge the major reforms of 2008 that made the NHS scheme sustainable in the long term.
‘Non-urgent work will be postponed and, although this will be disruptive to the NHS, doctors will ensure patient safety is protected. All urgent and emergency care will be provided and we will work closely with managers so that anyone whose care is going to be affected can be given as much notice as possible. Patients do not need to do anything now.
‘We will also run our own publicity campaign to make sure that members of the public understand what the action will involve and how they can find out what it might mean for them and their families. This is not a step that doctors take lightly – this is the first industrial action doctors have taken since 1975.
‘We have consistently argued that the Government should reconsider its position, and even at this stage we would much prefer to negotiate a fairer deal than to take action. We are not seeking preferential treatment but fair treatment. The government’s wholesale changes to an already reformed NHS pension scheme cannot be justified.’
Announcing the strike ballot result, the BMA reiterated its condemnation of the government’s onslaught on the NHS Pension Scheme, which it has already started to implement.
‘The latest changes will see doctors paying up to 14.5 per cent of their salaries in pension contributions – twice as much as some other public sector staff on a similar salary in order to receive a similar pension.
‘They will also have to work longer to receive their pension – up to 68 for younger doctors.’