Doctors vote for strike action – but BMA Council refuses to call strike

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HOSPITAL doctors in Scotland have voted to take strike action against the government’s attacks on the Scottish NHS Pension Scheme.

However, the BMA Council, met after the result was announced and claimed the majority was too low, and even that it would be illegal to call action based on the ballot result.

BMA members in Scotland and throughout the UK will no doubt be very angry at this display of political cowardice.

1,368 voted in favour of strike action, 1,103 against, with five spoilt papers. That is a majority of 265 in favour of strike action.

Doctors were asked two questions – whether they were willing to take part in strike action, and whether they were willing to take part in action short of a strike.

In the ballot for action short of a strike 1,784 voted in favour, 679 against and three spoilt papers. That is a majority of 1,105 in favour of action short of strike action.

Junior Doctors voted by a big majority of 474-176 in favour of strike action and 580-71 in favour of action short of a strike.

However, despite the ballot result, yesterday afternoon the BMA Council issued a statement saying it has ruled out strike action in hospitals in Scotland this winter.

The statement said: ‘BMA Council, at its meeting on 28 November, carefully considered the results of the ballots of hospital doctors in Scotland.

‘Although 72.92% of Junior Doctors and 52.4% of Staff and Associate Specialists who voted in the ballots were willing to take strike action, the overall levels of the support in the ballots was not enough to mount effective action.

‘Ballots of Consultant and Public Health Doctors did not provide a legal mandate for the strike action proposed.’

In fact the Consultants voted 734 for strike with 756 against, an unprecedentedly high vote for strike action!

While the BMA council evades its responsibility, Bolton Hospital has announced plans to sack and downgrade staff to make £38m cuts in the next two years. The Foundation Trust announced 500 jobs could be lost.

The union staff side has broken down the figures to reveal that 20 doctors will be lost, and 50 midwives and 93 nurses.

Previously the Trust listed 93 technical and therapy posts, 193 medical secretaries and ward clerks and 24 maintenance staff.

Also, at least 1,685 workers could find themselves forced to re-apply for their own jobs on worse terms and conditions, which could affect 1,450 nurses, midwives and healthcare assistants.

There is also great concern over Greater Manchester health review ‘Healthier Together’, which calls for downgrading District General Hospitals in the region.

Bolton unions have already warned that up to seven A&E departments could be lost and one of them could be Bolton’s. The unions have organised a lunchtime rally at Cheadle Square Bolton on Saturday 1st December. They will be joined by ‘Save Bolton A&E’ group.