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How the BMA gets doctors to support strikes

October 31, 2012

Ask a leading question

I’ve just been asked to complete a survey about my views on the BMA’s response to changes in doctors pensions.

Here’s the preamble:

“Many thanks for filling out this short survey. It will help us represent your views within the BMA.

Local measurements showed that during the last set of industrial action as many as 80% of consultants had changed their work day to fit in with industrial action. In most cases it represented changes from routine cases to urgent. In one local survey seventy percent of doctors said that they would be willing to take on call only type industrial action if the governments pension offer was not improved.

Industrial action was suspended in the summer for further talks with the government but these have failed to improve on the offer.

Wherever you are on the current scheme you will be affected by changes in contributions, doctors will pay 10 times more for the same pension as a judge. Doctors will pay contributions of 14.9% for a 60ths accrual scheme, MPs for example pay 7.7% for the same type of scheme or 13.75% for a much more generous 40ths scheme.

Doctors will be forced to work until 68/69 to receive a full pension. This applies even to doctors with only 15 years until the current retirement date. Each year a doctor leaves before 68/69 will cost 5% of their pension. A doctor aged 45 will be approximately £300,000 worse off in terms of their pension if they retire at 60 as is their current right.

The industrial action over pensions has already brought some improvement in the pensions offer for those within 15 years and the index linking has been improved from just CPI to CPI + 1.5% Industrial action has worked and may work further if determined action is taken.

The Public Sector Pensions Bill is before parliament now and it gives the Treasury the right to alter our pension in the future again without consultation, it removes final salary pension, it lays down that police, fireman, armed services can retire at 60 but doctors must work until national pension age of 68/69 (although this rises linked with life expectancy – reverse performance related pay).

Let us know your opinions.”

Nicely balanced eh?  And here’s the choices for industrial action:

How many days industrial action would you be willing to take?

  • Only a single day
  • One day per month
  • Two days per month
  • One day per week

When I first tried to complete the survey this was a compulsory question!  It’s now possible to leave it blank but it’s hardly a fair question.

If you read in a few days that n% of consultants in the Trent region support industrial action, take it with a pinch of salt!

Jim Thornton

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