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NHS pensions strike: As it happened

Read our live blog covering the NHS pension strikes as they unfold throughout the day – and let us know what’s going on in your area by emailing


Wednesday 30 November

18:45 Gail Cartmail, assistant general secretary of Unite, tells Pulse that she hopes the strength of protest on the day of action against the coalition’s pensions reforms leads to the Government putting ‘meaningful proposals on the table’ for future negotiations. She says that there is such strong anger over the Government’s attack on pensions that many Unite members took strike action for the very first time today, despite having been members of the union for years.

Gail Cartmail by andymcnicoll

18:08 Christina McAnea, UNISON Head of Health, says NHS workers were ‘solid’ in support of the strike action to protect their pensions. She said: ‘Half of all NHS staff were not balloted, but we know that support for the action was strong right across the country. Over 400,000 NHS workers took part in strike action in support of their pensions today. Many of our members who were working turned up because we had agreed that they should provide emergency cover.’

17:00 Dr Jacqueline Applebee, chair of Tower Hamlets GP Forum, tells Pulse that GPs joined 50 teachers and public sector professionals outside a local school in Bow to protest against the Government’s pensions reforms this morning.

Dr Jackie Applebee, chair of Tower Hamlets GP Forum on pension strikes by andymcnicoll

16:40 GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey has joined a protest march in Manchester city centre and told Pulse they had received a warm reception.

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.’

16:00 Dr John Hughes, honorary secretary of Manchester LMC and a GP in the city tells Pulse that the LMC has not been contacted about significant disruptions to GPs due to the strikes. However, he did say that radiography and physio services at a local hospital had been disrupted, and warned that orders for GPs not to carry out routine blood tests today would ‘certainly increase GP workload’ in the next few days.

Dr Hughes told Pulse: ‘At the local hospital it is mainly physios, OTs and radiographers that are off. I think it’s about ten per cent absence there. There have also been a number of outpatient appointment cancellations. In terms of GPs, we have been told not to do routine blood tests and only to do emergency bloods. That is certainly going to cause increased GP workload, not necessarily today but in the next couple of days when people who have had to be sent away today come back again.’

15:25 Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of the BMA’s pensions committee and a GP in Cardiff tells Pulse there has been ‘pretty significant uptake’ of the BMA’s pension campaign packs from GPs and doctors. Dr Bailey says the Government must not ‘underestimate how angry the profession is’ over the coalition’s pensions raid.  

He said:  ‘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.’ Full clip below:

Dr David Bailey, deputy chair of BMA’s pensions committee by andymcnicoll


15:11 BMA say they have a ‘great take-up’ of their pensions campaign materials. So far, they have sent out 1,232 packs and have 50,000 badges in circulation.

15:00 Watch our exclusive interview with Dr Anna Livingstone, a GP in Limehouse, east London, who explains why she feels it is a ‘disgrace’ that public sector pensions are being targeted for cuts by the Government.


15:05 The nurses have arrived in Bristol and Westminster! Click here to see the latest images from the RCN.

13:45 Watch an exclusive video with Dr Kambiz Boomla, a GP in Tower Hamlets, East London, and chair of City and Hackney LMC, as he explains why he is taking part today.


13:30 Workers outside Whitechapel Hospital have posted an image of themselves on Twitter – their slogan is ‘Never trust a man with thin lips’. Link here.

12:48 PM says the strikes look like ‘something of a damp squib’, according to the BBC, as NHS London says the capital is ‘coping well’ with increased pressure on emergency services.

Created with Admarket’s flickrSLiDR.

12:38  All GP practices in Lothian will be open and will be offering an emergency service as a minimum. Full statement here.

11.35 GPC deputy chair Dr Richard Vautrey has joined a march against the pension cuts in Manchester, and has tweeted a picture of himself and colleagues sporting BMA campaign badges.

11.31 Not strictly related to today’s strike, but a development which will be of interest to GPs facing curtailed pension pots nonetheless. BMA chair Dr Hamish Meldrum has responded to yesterday’s announcement by the Chancellor George Osbornethat  public sector pay rises will be limited to an average of 1% for two years beyond 2013.

‘The Chancellor’s decision to bypass the normal pay review process for a further two years and announce another sub-inflationary pay award will come as a bitter blow to all those who work in the NHS.’

‘Doctors, like their public sector colleagues, are angry at the government’s proposals to slash the value of their pensions. This announcement, coming on top of what will be three years of pay freeze for senior doctors, will further alienate those who are working hard to deliver improvements to patient care.’

11.06 Disruption from today’s pension strikes has hit the RCGP, which has cancelled its CSA assessments today. The RCGP Curriculum website, which is currently down, advised: ‘Owing to the possibility of widespread strike action and disruption to travel in London we will not be holding examinations on 30 November unless absolutely necessary.’

10:35 Tower Hamlets GP Dr Anna Livingstone explains why she is supporting the pension strikes. Listen below:


Interview with Dr Anna Livingstone by andymcnicoll

10:27 Pulse reporter Andy McNicoll, on the ground in Tower Hamlets, caught an impromptu speech by a passing accountant, who is ‘100% behind the strikers today’. Listen below:

Interview with accountant by andymcnicoll

10:15 Several GPs from the Limehouse Practice in Tower Hamlets are now returning to work, after joining around 20 practice staff in their protest. The practice was closed until 10.15am, with patients provided emergency cover only.

Pulse reporter Andy McNicoll says there was lots of honking in support – and a passing accountant on his way to work stopped off to give an impassioned defence of public sector pensions.

10:00 Dr Kailash Chand OBE, chair of NHS Tameside and Glossop and formerly a member of BMA Council, has indicated his support for the strikes.


@stevenowottny I support the protest.A typical GP staff worker would have to work three lifetimes to earn a Cabinet minister’s pension.
Nov 30 via Mobile Web

09:53 A couple of pictures have come through from the protests in Tower Hamlets, where staff and also patients from the Gill Street Health Centre are heavily represented.


09:35 Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge has cancelled some appointments for surgery and outpatients. A statement on the hospital’s website says that all patients affected have been contacted in advance – emergency and maternity services are running as normal.

09:30 Staff and GPs from the Limehouse Practice are now picketing on Commercial Road, drawing hoots from passing traffic.

09:00 Pulse reporter Andy McNicoll is with GPs in Tower Hamlets, east London, who are among the most vocal campaigners against the pensions changes in the capital. Staff from the Limehouse Practice are preparing to join a protest on Commercial Road, against the backdrop of Canary Wharf.

08:00 NHS staff are striking today for the first time in a generation, in protest at ministers’ planned changes to public-sector pensions. After the MPU’s last-minute legal advice, no GPs will be striking themselves – but thousands of practice staff will be and disruption is expected throughout the NHS.

Follow our live updates throughout the day, and let us know what’s going on in your area by emailing

Tuesday 29 November

Last week Pulse reported that a number of GPs in London had notified the MPU, which is part of the Unite union, of their intention to take industrial action on 30 November. But the MPU has now officially declared that its 100 GP members are ‘not being called out’ to join strikes, after advice from lawyers identified ‘complications’ with issuing ‘intention to strike’ notices to cover GPs.

Hundreds of thousands of public sector workers will strike again in the New Year unless there is a peace deal over pension reforms by Christmas, the leader of the biggest public sector union – Unite – has warned in the Telegraph.

Monday 28 November

We have an update on our story from a week ago that revealed any NHS workers sick on Wednesday will have to get a sick note from their GP. LMC leaders are preparing self-certification forms to prevent GP surgeries being inundated by NHS staff forced to get sick notes for the pensions ‘day of action’ this Wednesday.

Polly Curtis has a good article on the Guardian, with an analysis of the various claims that Government and unions make over public sector pensions

Press Association is predicting ‘widespread disruption’ on Wednesday, with schools, hospitals, airports, courts and libraries hit. Send us your images and stories of how you are supporting the day of action, or how you are coping without your practice staff.

Saturday 26 November

Chief secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander hints he might withdraw the latest pensions offer from the Government in this Saturday’s Guardian – playing his last available card