British Doctors Strike for First Time in 37 Years

British Medical Association

British Medical Association (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

It looks like the Tory government’s NHS reforms are hitting a very serious wall (via Channel 4):

Doctors will take industrial action on June 21 in the bitter row over the Government’s controversial pension reforms.The British Medical Association (BMA) said doctors will provide urgent and emergency care but will postpone non-urgent cases, said the BMA.

It said doctors across the UK had backed action after being balloted over the changes…..

GPs voted by 13,837 to 3,687 to take action short of a strike and by 11,062 to 6,426 in favour of strikes.

The last time doctors took industrial action was in 1975, when consultants suspended goodwill activities and worked to contract over a contractual dispute, and junior doctors worked to a 40-hour week because of dissatisfaction with the progress of contract negotiations.

The BMA argues that higher-paid NHS staff already pay proportionately more for their pensions than most other public sector workers, a disparity which it said increased in April when their contributions went up, and which is set to rise again.

By 2014, some doctors will see deductions of 14.5 per cent from their pay for their pensions, compared with 7.35 per cent for senior civil servants on similar salaries, receiving similar pensions, said the BMA.

While I generally support collective industrial action, this is a little worrying as it involves people’s health. It seems to me that the strike will not seriously endanger people’s lives as operations/non-emergency care will resume the following day, but you never know. I understand doctors feel unfairly treated and perhaps this is the only way for them to get the government’s attention. The problem is, the Tories have a long history of hostility towards  industrial action and are rarely quick to make concessions. Sadly, this might be just the start of things to come.

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