BMA Calls For Talks With Government Over 'Gold-Plated' Pensions

The British Medical Association (BMA) today repeated its call for talks with the government on pensions, as new figures show that many junior doctors could be better off investing in a private pension than joining the reformed NHS scheme.

The call for dialogue comes as doctors and medical students attending the BMA’s annual conference in Cardiff passed a motion calling for a possible ballot of BMA membership on industrial action.

Initial figures from illustrative modelling commissioned by the BMA show that the potential pension a doctor embarking on a career as a GP could expect to build up in the NHS scheme, assuming it undergoes key reforms proposed by the government, could be lower than the pension built up by investing in a personal scheme (in which there are no employer contributions.)

Proposals to increase the retirement age could also have a dramatic impact. A junior doctor currently aged 30 could expect to work to the age of 68 rather than 60. Over the course of the additional eight years worked, they could expect to pay more than £140,000 in contributions.

The BMA is concerned that if the NHS pension ceases to provide value to doctors, many would opt out, potentially destabilising the largest public sector pension scheme, and adding to the burden on the state.

In a speech to the conference, Dr Andrew Dearden, Chairman of the BMA’s Pensions Committee, called on the government to “stop throwing punches” and enter into dialogue.

Dr Dearden emphasised that many of the changes proposed by the government for public sector pensions have already been applied to the NHS scheme, which is currently in surplus:

 “There is great anger and fear among doctors and medical students. And rightly so, when you consider that the NHS pension scheme is in a very different position from other public sector schemes. It went through a major overhaul only three years ago. And for all the talk of it not being affordable to the taxpayer, it is currently delivering a massive surplus of £2 billion per year to the Treasury.

“In 2008, we agreed to work longer and pay more. Our message to the government is simple - we want to be treated fairly and have a reasonable dialogue on pensions - something that has been sadly lacking so far. The government wants you to work longer, pay more and get a lot less. This is no way to treat the very doctors who have devoted their entire careers to patients and the NHS.”

Commenting on the motion on industrial action, Dr Dearden said: “While feelings are running high, industrial action would only ever be a last resort. Doctors always think of their patients first, and it would never be a decision that would be taken lightly. We’re definitely not at that stage yet, and it would be premature to be talking about specific forms of action.”


Related UK National News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

21 October 2011
Doctors Threaten Strikes Over Pension Rise
The proposed rise in NHS pension contributions among health workers has led a major doctor's union to threaten strike action if the plan goes ahead.
16 June 2003
More assistance needed for refugee doctors says BMA
The British Medical Association (BMA) has called for refugee doctors to be given more assistance to pass exams necessary for registration in UK. There are currently 865 refugee doctors on voluntary databases who want to work for the NHS, according to the BMA, and many are subsisting on state benefits of £37 per week.
06 June 2006
'Star ratings' for doctors
GPs could be awarded star ratings to show the quality of care they offer, under a new voluntary scheme. The new scheme, which is being drawn up by the Royal College of General Practitioners, could be introduced next April.
05 October 2011
Foreign Doctors 'Must Speak English'
From this week, doctors who want to practise in the NHS in England will have to prove they have a good standard of English. Before they are allowed to work, they will have to prove their ability to communicate. That's under strict new rules about to be imposed by the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley.
08 March 2011
Doctors Fear Reporting Colleagues

Almost one in five UK doctors has had direct experience of an incompetent or poorly performing colleague in the past three years, finds a survey of professional values, published online in British Medical Journal (BMJ) Quality and Safety.