Showdown talks between the BMA and ministers on NHS pensions have failed to draw any concessions from the Government.
BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum met health secretary Andrew Lansley last week to discuss doctors’ opposition to the Government’s pensions reforms. Dr Meldrum pressed for ministers to open ‘meaningful negotiations’ on the pensions changes. But, in the wake of the talks, the BMA conceded that the Government is still showing no appetite to reach ‘a fairer offer’.
BMA Council is to hold an emergency meeting on the 25th February, where BMA leaders will discuss ‘the options for balloting on industrial action’ unless there is a ‘significant change’ in the Government’s position. The BMA insists that ‘industrial action remains a last resort.’ But Mr Lansley’s fierce refusal to re-open talks on key elements on the scheme, makes the prospect of a ballot more likely.
Following his meeting with the health secretary, Dr Meldrum said: ‘Lines of communication are open, but the government has not yet shown a willingness to find a meaningful way of reaching a fairer offer.
‘Now it’s a case of us doing everything we can to make clear to them the strength of feeling about why the proposals as they stand are unfair and unnecessary. BMA members very much need to be part of that effort, and we will be providing ways for them to call on the government to come back to the table to avoid industrial action.’
In a last-ditch attempt to encourage ministers to engage in further negotiations, the BMA has submitted an e-petition to the Number 10 website calling on the Government to open talks with the health unions over key elements of the pension reforms.
The BMA formally rejected the Government’s final pensions offer in January after the BMA’s survey of 46,000 members found 84% opposed the offer and two-thirds backed some form of industrial action.