‘The attack on pensions is an attack on the NHS!’

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Over 50 doctors, health workers and supporters rallied outside the Royal London Hospital yesterday midday in defence of the NHS and pensions
Over 50 doctors, health workers and supporters rallied outside the Royal London Hospital yesterday midday in defence of the NHS and pensions

Over 50 doctors and their supporters organised a demonstration outside the Royal London Hospital in Whitechapel, East London yesterday during their strike over major changes to the NHS pension scheme.

Over 100,000 BMA members took an active part in the action all over the UK.

Doctor Shan, a British Medical Association (BMA) member addressing a rally, said: ‘We are fighting for our children’s future.

‘Our children, who want to become doctors in the future are going to be spending £9,000 a year on their tuition fees.

‘They will be taking out huge loans, partake in many years of training and then contribute large sums of money into their pensions.

‘If we do not look after our health care workers, there is a big market in health care all over the world and they will go!’

Jackie Applebee-Turner, chair of the Tower Hamlets BMA, said: ‘We are here today because the government are attacking our pensions.

‘It is not only our pensions, it is the pensions of all the public sector workers.

‘We have to unite with each other against the attack on the public sector, including the criminal privatisation of the NHS.

‘If everyone stands together then we have more chance of beating this government.’

Lyn Owens, a Practice Manager from Jubilee Street, said: ‘I came to support the rally because in the press all they are talking about are GPs and Consultants who are high earners having to pay more into their pensions.

‘But there are hundreds of thousands of admin staff and nurses who are not high earners, who are also being asked to put more of their salary each month into their pension.

‘We signed a deal four years ago with the government that we would retire at the age of 60 or 65 and now they have gone back on that and now want us to work till we are 68 and pay more money in.

‘Personally I would not mind paying more money in if the money raised was going back into the NHS but it is not, it is being used to prop up banks and pay big business.’

Anna Livingstone, June Gray, Maggie Fallshaw, Sheila Cheeroth and Kirsten Shirke all came down from the Gill Street Health Centre to support the doctors rally.

They said: ‘We are here today because we see the attack on NHS pensions as an attack on the NHS as a whole, the entire workforce.

‘It is part of a plan to prepare the NHS for privatisation because it makes it more attractive for private companies because they will not have to deal with pensions commitments to staff.

‘Our centre is under resourced.

‘The centre has a limited amount of rooms but the population is growing.

‘Every year we are promised a new health centre.’

A nursing student in the RCN, Valerian Delagarde, told News Line: ‘I support the doctors’ action and I would be on strike if I could.

‘We need a general strike and a global movement involving the patient, the public and everyone.’

Jenifer Williams, a nurse in the RCN union who works at a GP practice, said: ‘I support the doctors strike. Doctors are very angry about the Health and Social Care Act.

‘Doctors want to be united in action to defend their pensions.

‘We wanted our union to come out as well, our pensions are no good, my wage has decreased, my workload has increased and all the living expenses have gone up.

‘All the health care unions, RCN, RCM, Unison, Unite and BMA should come out on strike together.

‘We have to come out on strike not just about pensions but the overall attack on the NHS.’