A decision on future strike action by the BMA has been deferred until next month as newly elected chair Dr Mark Porter will seek an urgent meeting with the Health Secretary.
The BMA council today elected Dr Porter, a consultat ananaesthetist at University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire, and decided to defer taking a decision on future strike action until 18 July.
In the meantime Dr Porter, who replaces Hamish Meldrum after five years as head of the BMA, is to try and meet with Andrew Lansley to hold talks over the Government’s proposals for the NHS Pension Scheme.
A special meeting of the BMA Council decided to put off the decision about the next steps on industrial action until the council’s next scheduled meeting on 18 July when it expects to have more information on how and when negotiations on the Government’s proposed pension changes will take place.
The BMA is likely to get a cool reception from Mr Lansley who labelled last week’s action as “pointless” and said it would “achieve nothing.”
Dr Mark Porter said: “It was clear from the debates at our annual meeting today that doctors remain angry at the Government for tearing up a pensions deal reached only four years ago and which made the scheme sustainable for the future.
“Our preferred option has always been to find a fairer way forward through negotiation and I want to explore that with the Secretary of State for Health. I will be writing to him to seek an urgent meeting.”
Doctors at the BMA’s annual meeting in Bournemouth expressed the view that further industrial action was necessary. The conference also approved a vote of no confidence in Mr Lansley and supported a motion for him to resign.
Dr Porter, originally from Newcastle-under-Lyme, in Staffordshire takes over at the BMA after being chair of the consultants committee since 2009.
He has urged doctors to be “cautious” about taking further strike action.
Speaking after his election as BMA Chair he said: “I’m excited and privileged to be taking on this role at what is clearly a particularly challenging time for the NHS and the medical profession.
“The BMA will continue to work to help its members do the best for its patients during a time of huge change, and often huge financial difficulty, for the NHS.”
Dr Porter was elected by the 34 voting members of BMA Council. The other candidates for the post were George Rae, a GP in Whitley Bay, and Michael Rees, a professor of vascular medicine at the University of Bangor.