GPs have registered their anger at the Government’s ‘unacceptable’ raid on their NHS pensions and have urged the Scottish government to reverse the changes made in Westminster at today’s conference in Clydebank.
Representatives at the annual Scottish LMCs conference unanimously backed a motion which said the Government’s plans to make GPs work until 68 could cause GPs to work ‘when they feel physically or mentally unfit to do so due to the ever increasing demands and complexity of general practice’.
The motion also said working longer could lead to ‘a lack of career progression for younger GPs’ and a separate motion demanded the Scottish government explain to the public why they are ‘discriminating against NHS workers’ by asking them to pay more in pension contributions per pound than any other public sector worker.
Dr Colette Maule, a GP in Lanarkshire, who proposed the motion, said: ‘This is not to fund the pension scheme. It is to fund the Treasury after the banking fiasco.’
‘We are being discriminated against. Is it because the Government thinks we are a soft touch? Will the UK and Scottish governments tell the truth here?’
GPs also voted for a motion acknowledging the current tough and uncertain economic climate, but urging the Scottish Government ‘not to change our pensions which were reviewed in 2008 and made “future proof”‘.
Dr Dean Marshall, chair of Scottish GPC, had earlier urged GPs to take a firm stance on pensions: ‘You must vote in the BMA’s ballot.’
‘These reforms are unfair. We do not agree, and have never at any time agreed, with this Government’s plans for the NHS pension scheme.’
GPs received some sympathy from Scottish health secretary Nicola Sturgeon this morning, who said in her address to GPs that it was ‘galling’ to be dictated to by the coalition Government.
‘I share your anger,’ she said. ‘It’s galling to have a Government cutting tax for the rich and raiding public sector pensions.’
But Dr Marshall rejected this reasoning. He said: ‘I’m sorry, but their defence of why they want to do it to Scotland basically amounts to ‘a big English boy did it’. That is unacceptable. I’m not buying that and we’ve got to do something about it here.’
The issue of pensions was also discussed during GPC negotiators’ question time, in which GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden sounded a note of warning to those considering protests.
‘I don’t think anyone is going to get the violins out. We have to be very measured in how we do it. There are ways of doing it and marching down the street isn’t one of them.’
‘I am furious with them for reneging, but hitting them between the eyes might not be the best way of doing it.’