Doctors vote in favour of strike
7th June 2012
The British Medical Association has revealed the results of a ballot, showing that the majority of doctors have voted to initially go on strike on June 21. The ‘industrial action’ is the first time that doctors have decided to take such drastic action since the 1970s, and comes in protest to planned changes to doctors’ NHS pensions. Changes will result in doctors coughing up potentially 14.5% of their salaries into pension contributions. This is twice as much as some other public sector workers on a similar salary and who will receive a similar pension. In addition, doctors will also have to work longer to receive their pension, up to 68 years old for younger doctors. Doctors have argued that they will still attend to emergency cases but will postpone any non-urgent problems. This will of course leave thousands without care and will without doubt harm some patients. The doctors hope this will be enough action to force the Government’s hand, and alter their plans for pension reforms. Some doctors argue they are being ‘forced’ to act. For the average working-class citizen however, it may be a little difficult to sympathise with them. For doctors earning £120,000 a year, their annual pension still equates to over £48,000, which is a lot more than the majority of the UK are currently earning and is still more than double the average wage. Workers in the private sector would need to have acquired savings of roughly £1 million to achieve a pension of £48,000. In addition, in the last decade, doctors have seen their pay increase by nearly 50% and yet incredibly, their working hours have decreased. Back in May, the Conservative MP, Dr Dan Poulter, resigned from the BMA in response to the planned strike. Dr Poulter has been the Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP since 2010, and also works as a part-time NHS hospital doctor. Dr Poulter was clearly incensed by the attitude of the doctors and in May he commented, “I would never have contemplated going on strike when I was a full-time doctor. This is going to damage the reputation of the medical profession and it’s going to hurt patients.” He further added, “We need to be able to afford the pensions and afford to look after people in terms of funding the NHS and it’s important that doctors pay their fair share along with everyone else.”