By Gareth Iacobucci
The Government risks a ‘crisis in the NHS’ if they decide to meddle with the NHS pensions scheme, says the BMA chair.
In his keynote address to around 500 UK doctors at the Association’s annual conference in Brighton, BMA Chair Dr Hamish Meldrum said doctors and NHS staff were willing to be reasonable on pay, but would not accept any job losses or changes to their pensions.
It follows Chancellor George Osborne’s pledge to freeze public sector pay for the next two years, in his emergency budget last week.
Dr Meldrum said: ‘We can’t blame the public sector for the crisis caused by the world’s speculators and bankers. They caused the disease; they should be given the medicine.’
‘I’ve said that we should be reasonable and responsible when it comes to pay but don’t underestimate us when it comes to protecting doctors’ jobs and pensions.
‘On these, I will not be reasonable if, being reasonable means accepting cuts in the number of doctors or reneging on the recently agreed, revised pension arrangements for NHS staff.’
‘I am not someone who easily resorts to threats, but I warn the government – in a spirit of cooperation and being helpful – if you really want a crisis in the NHS, start meddling with the NHS pension scheme.’
The BMA chair attacked the ‘failed market philosophy’ for the NHS in England, and said the future of ISTCs and Darzi centres should be reviewed for potential savings, citing evidence first revealed by Pulse about the huge levels of funding being received by APMS contracts, and the lack of patients registering.
‘Incoherent and divisive market-based policies pit trusts against each other, secondary against primary care, increase costs and, in many cases, duplicate existing services,’ he said.
Dr Meldrum also used his speech to call for tighter controls on overseas doctors wishing to work in the UK, following the death of David Gray under the care of German locum Dr Daniel Ubani.
‘It cannot be acceptable for poorly trained, badly regulated doctors whose knowledge of English is about as good as my knowledge of Chinese, to be able to practise, virtually unchallenged, in the UK,’ he said.
Dr Hamish Meldrum Dr Meldrum’s speech
To read the full speech click here.