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Lansley hits out at BMA over day of pensions action

Health secretary Andrew Lansley has gone on the offensive over the BMA's decision to take industrial action, warning the public will not ‘understand or sympathise' with doctors.

The claim comes as a major media backlash over the first industrial action by doctors since 1975 was splashed over newspaper front pages this morning, and as NHS Employers said it was ‘deeply disapointed' with the BMA decision.

A Department of Health statement said doctors did not pay an unreasonable amount for their pensions and that those earning over £110,000 would contribute 6.54% of their salary after tax relief.

Mr Lansley said: ‘The public will not understand or sympathise with the BMA's call for industrial action over their pensions.'

‘People know that pension reform is needed as people live longer and to be fair in future for everyone. We have been clear that the NHS pension scheme is, and will remain, one of the best available anywhere.'

‘Every doctor within 10 years of retirement will receive the pension they expected, when they expected. Today's newly qualified doctor who works to 65 will get the same pension as the average consultant retiring today would receive at 60 - the BMA have already accepted a pension age of 65. If doctors choose to work to 68 then they could expect to receive a larger pension of £68,000.'

Dean Royles, director of NHS Employers, said: ‘We are deeply disappointed with the announcement from the BMA about their decision to take industrial action. Doctors know that any industrial action will impact on care and cause distress and disruption to patients and undermine trust and confidence in the medical profession.'

‘Doctors will now work locally with NHS trusts to assess the impact on local services and to consider the important question of communication with patients and public. We know that doctors are anxious about changes to their pensions. But no one wants to see patients dragged into the argument.'

‘Industrial action could potentially mean delays to treatment. It would be particularly distressing for patients and extremely worrying for staff who are dedicated to putting patients first.'

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