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DH meeting with new BMA chair fails to trigger movement on pensions

The BMA's last-minute attempt to reopen negotiations on pensions reforms has failed to yield concessions from the Government, as the Department of Health revealed that a high-profile meeting between health secretary Andrew Lansley and new BMA chair Dr Mark Porter had not signaled a shift in policy.

A DH spokesperson confirmed that the ‘introductory' meeting took place late yesterday afternoon between Mr Lansley and Dr Porter, with ‘a number of matters discussed, including pensions' – but said there were no new negotiations on pension proposals.

The spokesperson said: ‘The position remains from the DH that we will not reopen negotiations, but that we want to work with the unions on ongoing discussions concerning contributions, working longer, access and implementation. We want to work with the unions in partnership and we are looking forward to working with the BMA and its new chair in the future. It was a constructive meeting.'

It comes as BMA Council is meeting in Edinburgh today to decide whether to pursue further industrial action in protest at the enforced changes to the NHS pension scheme. Last month's annual representative meeting of BMA members in Bournemouth asked the council to debate whether doctors could boycott clinical commissioning or revalidation as part of any next phase of action.

As Pulse reported yesterday, BMA Council members have not ruled out any of the options on the table, despite the Government's insistence the overhaul will go ahead and become law.

The DH spokesperson added: ‘We reiterate that the changes affect all NHS staff and that we will not discuss this matter with one group of staff separately from the others. We have concluded that a clear majority of NHS staff have not voted against proposals in various trade unions.'