GPs were at the forefront of yesterday’s demonstrations as they took to the streets with colleagues to defend their NHS pension from the Government’s planned reforms.
Our live blog covered the day in which NHS workers went on strike for the first time in a generation as part of the wider ‘day of action’ against the Government’s proposed changes to their pensions.
Demonstrations were held throughout the country yesterday with an estimated 30,000 marching through London, 20,000 in Manchester and 15,000 in Birmingham.
Many GPs – although not officially on strike – joined the demonstrations in cities across the UK. GPC deputy chair, Dr Richard Vautrey, was marching in Manchester city centre and told Pulse of the warm reception demonstrators received.
He said: ‘It is a cold day and the march moved slowly but the warmth from the reception we got from people watching was palpable.’
‘There were lots of people on the march from all public sectors but all with a real concern about the way the Government is just trying to tax public sector employees and they believe this is deeply unfair’.
Pulse joined GPs in Limehouse and Tower Hamlets, east London, who were at the centre of local demonstratons against cuts to the NHS pension. Dr Anna Livingstone led an early-morning demonstration by her Limehouse Practice before opening for business as usual at 10:15am.
Dr Livingstone accused the Government of asking the public sector to work until they are ‘using walking frames’ and said she was out to defend ‘the health and wellbeing of the staff we work with and our patients’.
She added that demonstrating was ‘the best way we can do this today is to show our support in the streets and in the surgery’. The demonstration was met with wide general support, passing cars tooted their horns and a private sector accountant pulled up on his bicycle to give an impromptu speech in solidarity.
Dr Kambiz Boomla, another GP in Tower Hamlets, east London, and chair of City and Hackney LMC, was taking part in a wider demonstration where BMA members were joined by members of UCU, GMB, Unite, Unison and NUT.
Dr Boomla said: ‘If we don’t fight back on the attack on our pensions, on the attack on public services, then things will get worse.’
Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of the BMA’s pensions committee and a GP in Cardiff, said the Government must not ‘underestimate how angry the profession is’ over the coalition’s pensions raid.
He added: ‘It is sensible to wait, and we have to see what comes out [of negotiations] but I’m not at all sanguine that the profession will be happy when they see what is finally on the table.’