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Legal and industrial action threatened if new contract rises are capped

Angry GPs pledge to battle for pensions

GPs are pledging to take legal and industrial action if the Government pushes ahead with a cap on their new contract pension rises.

The threat comes in response to health minister Lord Warner's proposal to limit the rise in GPs' pensions to 48 per cent over the five years between 2003 and 2008.

The figure equates to the rises GPs have earned over the first three years of the contract and will amount to a 13 per cent cut.

It will also breach the GP contract signed by the Government three years ago, GPs said, and set a dangerous precedent for all future deals.

Dr Robert Park, a GP in Shrewsbury, Shropshire, said imposition of the cap by the Government would trigger 'meltdown of the new contract and the end of general practice as we know it'.

He said: 'I cannot believe that the Government can be so disingenuous or potentially fraudulent. My partners are incandescent and are talking of in- dustrial action.'

Dr Dale Egerton, a GP in Liss, Hampshire, said he would sue the Department of Health for breach of contract. He took his pension two months ago on the basis that the GP contract would be honoured.

He added: 'The Government can afford to pay it, but they just don't want to. I have paid massive superannuation contributions for the past two years and for them to make a retrospective reduction is illegal.'

Dr Jim Beatson, a GP from Troon, Ayrshire, said he would 'march the streets with placards' if the cap was imposed.

He said: 'The spectre of the department and its henchmen being allowed to even contemplate an illegal breach of the GMS contract is simply further confirmation of our perennial malady – a demoralised, disunited profession.'

Dr Tim Southwood, a GP from Nailsea near Bristol, said: 'What the Government is talking about is very underhand.'

The GPC has rejected Lord Warner's initial proposal and has vowed to use all means at its disposal to fight any cut.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, GPC chair, urged GPs to wait for the final outcome.

'I would caution GPs on jumping the gun concerning legal action. It would be counterproductive.'

He added: 'One option [for us] is legal action as a whole for the profession in the form of a judicial review.'

Lord Warner is expected to make a final ruling early next month.

• Letters, page 22

• Pulse Pensions Seminar –

12 December, London.

Details page 61

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