GPs have warned ministers they must rethink plans to renegotiate the profession’s pension rights, as Pulse delivered a petition to the Prime Minister with the names of almost 1,700 GPs.
The petition against the Government’s proposals to raise the compulsory retirement age was delivered to Downing Street yesterday by Richard Hoey, editor of Pulse magazine, and Dr Peter Swinyard, chair of the Family Doctor Association.
The petition shows the strength of feeling in the profession over the threat to raise the compulsory retirement age to 65 and then to 68, and to significantly ramp up GPs’ pension contributions.
Dr Swinyard said GPs were likely to take some kind of direct action if the petition’s demands were rejected: ‘There are very few issues over which GPs will go to the fence. The Government really ought to think long and hard over this, because we will fight.’
‘None of us would take any industrial action to harm patients but there are things we can do which will inconvenience the Government.’
Mr Hoey added: ‘GPs really want to send a message to the Government about how unhappy they are about plans to change the retirement age.’
Health secretary Andrew Lansley called pensions reforms ‘unrealistic’ in a letter leaked to the Daily Telegraph on Monday. His letter came after the Treasury announced plans to raise GP pension contributions by as much as six percentage points by 2014.
GPC negotiator Dr Peter Holden, who was one of those to sign Pulse’s petition, warned the Government was risking a mass exodus of GPs from the NHS pension scheme.
He told Pulse: ‘We have paid for our pension in spades. Eventually, if the Government tinkers about with it too much there is the serious risk doctors will choose to leave the scheme.’
Click below to watch a video of the petition handover.