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Independents' Day

We need clarity on BMA policy

From Dr John Hawson,

Windermere, Cumbria

I note that GPC chair Dr Hamish Meldrum is for the first time now suggesting that individual GPs may have to try to carry out their own court actions if the judicial review over the pension cap fails or if the Government chooses to ignore a ruling in favour of the GPC (News, 1 February).

This contradicts all the advice that emanates from the BMA pensions officers, who have steadfastly stated that any action will be done by the BMA on behalf of all GPs regardless of whether they are, or have been, BMA members.

Dr Meldrum also does not seem to have understood that NHS statutes exist that prevent court action from being taken over a grievance that has already been submitted to a form of arbitration.

One simply cannot go to court over a matter that has been referred to appeal or judicial review or any form of arbitration, whether the result of that was favourable or unfavourable.

Moreover, a judicial review cannot compel the other party to do anything other than 'review its decision', whereas a court action if successful can compel the agreed dynamising factors to be paid.

Which doctors would receive the support of the

BMA to enable them to take individual legal action: does he mean that the BMA will act for all individual GPs? Or only those who continue to pay BMA membership fees into their retirement? Or just those who were fee-paying members of the BMA at the time of the Government's breach of contract?

I retire this week and I need absolute clarity from the BMA as to which doctors would get legal assistance.

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