What the doctors' strike means for you
Filed under: Pensions
So what does it mean for you?
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Why?After an initial backlash against the strike announcement, the BMA wrote an open letter to explain the action. In the letter they explained: "Despite agreeing to major reforms in 2008, that made the NHS pension scheme fair and sustainable, doctors are now being asked to work much longer, up to 68 years of age, and to contribute much more of their salary, up to 14.5 per cent, for their pensions."
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It continued: "These contributions are up to twice as much as those of civil servants on the same pay, for the same pension. We are not looking for preferential treatment from the Government but we do want fair treatment."
Of course, the usual arguments apply. The scheme is still far more generous than anything the typical private sector employee could expect, but there are more generous public sector pensions around - and doctors could rightly argue that if you're going to be over-generous to one section of the public sector, you're going to have to think of a very good reason not to give something similar to everyone else.
The effectsIt's the first time that doctors will have been out on strike for 37 years. By law they are prevented from action that puts the public at risk. On paper they won't have any life-changing effect on emergency patients. However, the knock-on effects of the strike are highly significant.
The plan is for them to cancel or postpone any non-urgent operations or appointments booked for that particular date. Every cancelled appointment will have to be rescheduled within 28 days. However, for those who have serious concerns about degenerative conditions, and those in constant pain, 28 days is an eternity away.
It will also hit those people who have appointments set up further down the track, and those who are due to be seen at any time within the next three months could find their plans upset by rescheduling difficulties.
GPs alone see 1.2 million people a day, and all but the most urgent of those will have their appointments cancelled. For those people who have waited an age for an appointment in the first place, having to potentially wait weeks again is unacceptable. If their medical condition was something that could easily wait a couple of months, would they even be bothering making an appointment in the first place?
ResponseDr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: "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.
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