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Doctors to take industrial action following strike ballot

UK doctors will not provide non-urgent care on 21 June in industrial action over the government’s planned pension changes, the British Medical Association has said.

It will be medics’ first industrial action since 1975.

BMA Council chair Hamish Meldrum today said urgent and emergency care would not be affected. He said doctors did not want to put patients at risk. Dr Meldrum said GP practices would be open but not holding routine appointments.

A ballot of 104,544 medics by the British Medical Association resulted in a turnout of more than 50 per cent with doctors voting overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action.

The BMA council will meet today to discuss the outcome of the ballot and decide on the next steps. But any industrial action in response to the ballot must take place within the next four weeks.

The ballot consisted of six separate votes for GPs, consultants, junior doctors, speciality medics, occupational medicine doctors, and public health and community doctors.

In total 52,133 doctors voted on the question of taking industrial action - a turnout of 49.8 per cent. A similar figure of 52,068 voted on the question of strike action.

The largest support for action came from junior doctors who voted by 92 per cent in favour of industrial action with a total of 12,041 votes cast. A total of 81.9 per cent of junior doctors voted in favour of strike action with 12,040 votes cast.

Consultants voted 84.2 per cent in favour of industrial action, and 73 per cent for strike action, with more than 18,600 votes cast.

GPs also supported industrial action with 78.9 per cent in favour and 63.3 per cent in favour of strike action, on more than 17,400 votes cast.

Speciality doctors voted 87 per cent in favour of action and 76 per cent in favour of a strike on more than 3,450 votes cast.

Occupational medicine doctors voted 39 per cent in favour of action and 34 per cent in favour of strike, on 41 votes cast.

Public health and community doctors voted 75 per cent in favour of action and 60 per cent in favour of strike on more than 390 votes cast.

NHS Employers director Dean Royles called on the BMA Council to consider patients as it met to debate the ballot result today.

He said: “As the BMA Council now meet I really want them to put patients at the centre of their decision making. They know that any industrial action will impact on care and cause distress and disruption to patients and undermine trust and confidence in the medical profession.

“We know that doctors are anxious about changes to their pensions. But no one wants to see patients dragged into the argument.  

“Industrial action could potentially mean delays to treatment. It would be particularly distressing for patients and extremely worrying for staff who are dedicated to putting patients first.

“It’s a tough decision for the BMA Council but they should do the right thing for patients.

“If they do decide to call doctors out on strike then the more notice employers get of this the more robust our contingency plans will be.”

Readers' comments (9)

  • The medical profession won't have much sympathy from the public. Not a wise move in this economic climate.

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  • ANON 1:36

    I know you won't have much sympathy for her but my GP wife's income has fallen by 15% in the last year AND she is being asked for significant extra amount in pension contributions and being asked to work for considerably longer.

    Not a great incentive for a highly qualified medical professional to continue to work in the NHS is it?

    If nothing is done, I think we will see a repeat of what has happened to NHS dental services with the rise of private General Practice. When you cannot register with an NHS GP for love nor money might she get your sympathy then?

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  • Public trust, hard work, earned respect is what UK doctors used to be known for. Massive investment in medical pay over the recent years including GP (independent private contractors) has not produced similar returns in quality + productivity.
    Time for the patient revolution.

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  • The 50 - 60 % pay rises for Consultants and GPs under New Labour's pay policy should provide enough money for them to pay more towards their pensions? Doctors have always had a love of money - but enough is never enough.

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  • At least all those loss of wages for those who take action can be put to good use !

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  • They wouldn't strike against the bungled NHS reforms but they will for their pensions. Not sure they are going to get too much sympathy

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  • How much will NHS save as result of this strike ?

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  • The NHS will probably save nothing Doctors will turn up for work as usual but wont deal with any routine work How naive

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  • Anon 3.38, this is Anon 1.36. I also come from a medical family, so I have personal sympathy. My post was about public sympathy. This episode sadly plays into the hands of the Daily Wail who think doctors are all lazy overpaid incompetents who fuss about anything that involves someone asking them to do something other than lounge around on a golf course. Prejudicies run deep. It's such a shame that the BMA didn't galvanise more action on the Health Bill and inevitable that people will say doctors don't care about that, only their own pockets. It's ill timed. And taking strike action when you haven't for 40+ years is radical. Then it shoves the debate into the tired old chestnut about public/ private sector pensions, where everyone "has" to be miserable and it's a competition to criticise eachother at a time when I think we need to work together. I also have a partner who's a GP and there are so many things the campaign could do better. How many people realise that they have to pay both the employer and employee's contribution? Or the previous re-negotiation? Completely take your point about the falling number of GPs wishing to work in the NHS longer term if this sort of thing continues, much like where dentistry is now. If it's not NHS T&Cs, it'll be AQP. This is more than fragmentation because of the reforms, this is a fundamental creation of a multi tier system. I wish there had been a way for the professions (including managers) to work together - perhaps that was the plan all along "divide and rule" ?!

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