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Lansley: BMA industrial action will delay thousands of operations

The BMA's day of action over pensions will damage patient care and will result in 30,000 operations being cancelled, claims the health secretary in a letter to the union.

The letter states there is ‘no chance' that the BMA's industrial action will result in negotiations being reopened and accuses the union of not taking negotiations seriously enough.

He wrote: ‘There is no chance at all that the BMA's actions – action which will damage patient care – will result in these negotiations being reopened.'

‘As a result of the action that you are taking, up to 3,000 operations could be cancelled, 58,000 diagnostic tests may have to be postponed , and over 200,000 outpatient appointments may have to be rescheduled.'

Mr Lansley accused the BMA of not taking the original negotiations on pensions reforms seriously last year, because it failed to send the chair of its pensions committee to any meetings.

‘It is disappointing that the BMA has never fielded the chair of their Pensions Committee at any of these meetings, calling into question the seriousness of your commitment to the process.

A response from the BMA stated: ‘Reform of the NHS pension scheme took place in 2008 – achieved through negotiation between the government, employers and health unions and which all then agreed made the scheme sustainable for the future.

‘Many of the recommendations for public sector pension reform put forward by Lord Hutton therefore already apply in the NHS. In particular, the cost sharing agreement, which the coalition government has now shelved, would have passed on the costs of improving longevity to staff, not taxpayers.'

Dr Richard Vautrey, a GPC negotiator and a GP in Leeds, last week told Pulse that the aim of the industrial action was to bring the Government back to the negotiating table.

‘We would rather that we didn't get to the day. We want to get Lansley around the table for meaningful discussions and it is in their court. We believe the dispute can be resolved if the Government were they to enter into serious negotiations even at this late stage,' he said.

Click here to download the full letter

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