Pensions – key messages post decision to reject offer
It is important that any of us who speak to anyone about pensions get the message right. This little list should help. You are welcome to publish it anywhere.

• Doctors and medical students across the UK have demonstrated their strength of feeling against the government’s proposed changes to the NHS Pension Scheme
• 46,000 responded to a BMA survey, with over 80 per cent calling for the plans to be rejected and almost two thirds saying they would be prepared to take some form of industrial action. [The response rate was extremely high for surveys of this type]
• Since the 70s, no dispute with government has reached the point where a ballot on industrial action was considered necessary, which demonstrates an unprecedented level of discontent
• The government needs to understand the huge significance of this response and to work with the BMA and other NHS unions to agree fairer changes as a matter of urgency
• Industrial action remains a last resort, and we would far prefer the government to reconsider these unfair, unnecessary and damaging changes
• Of particular concern is the proposal to increase the retirement age to 68, which could put pressure on doctors to work beyond the age at which they feel competent and safe to do so
• Their discontent is not solely the result of the unfair pensions changes. For many doctors the attack on pensions has proved the last straw, on top of a long-term pay freeze, concern about the impact of cuts on patient care, and (in England) frustration with massive and unnecessary reorganisations and market reforms
• We are in contact with the government to urge them to re-open negotiations
• We are also in contact with other health unions that are considering their next steps
• At the same time, we will draw up detailed plans for industrial action that would minimise any risk of harm to patients
• BMA Council will meet again on 25 February to consider the outcome of the approach to government, and to make a decision on next steps
• NHS workers are unhappy mainly because of the unfairness of the government’s changes. They agreed to major changes to their pension scheme in 2008. As a result, the scheme is not in deficit – it currently delivers billions to the Treasury every year – and is sustainable for the long term too.


Three key messages:

• The NHS Pension Scheme underwent massive change only four years ago and is delivering billions in surplus to the Treasury
• The increases bear no relation to the costs of the scheme and take no account of the current contribution rates
• NHS workers undertake highly physical and mentally demanding work - increasing the retirement age to almost 70 could put pressure on doctors to work beyond the age at which they feel competent and safe to do so.

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