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Pensions bill will ‘entrench’ unfairness for doctors, says BMA



The Government has formally set out the legislation for its controversial reforms to doctors’ pensions, which the BMA said would ‘entrench’ the unfairness surrounding the proposals.

The publication of the Public Service Pensions Bill brings into legislation the Government’s plans to reform public service pensions, including a change to the way pensions are funded and an increase in the pension age.

It comes after the BMA suspended plans for further industrial action following the day of action on 21 June, after it decided that ‘only escalated action’ would lead to a rethink of the plans, which the BMA said it was ‘unwilling to do’ because of the impact on patients.

Despite the publication, one leading GP vowed to continue ‘the fight’ until the bill is enacted.

Following the publication of the bill, Dr Mark Porter, chair of BMA Council, said: ‘The Government’s approach to pension reform has been unfair in many ways. This bill – the latest attack on public sector pensions – would entrench that unfairness, which particularly impacts on NHS staff.

‘Under the Government’s plans, some healthcare workers will pay 66% of the cost of their pension benefits by 2014/15. By contrast, the highest earning civil servants will pay a maximum of 26% of theirs.’

Dr Porter also expressed concern about plans to raise the retirement age.

‘Work in the NHS is often physically, mentally and emotionally demanding, and some staff will not feel able to work effectively beyond the age of 65. Particularly given the importance of quality and safety, it cannot be right to put economic pressure on them to work beyond that point. ‘

‘We will be seeking to propose affordable ways in which the changes can be made fairer, both now and in the longer term.’

Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association, said: ‘The fight is never over until the bill is enacted. Those who felt very strongly about the Health & Social Care Bill carried on fighting until the enactment. You can get amendments of a bill while it goes through the parliamentary system. But clearly it is another battle that the government thinks it is winning.’