Doctors suspended strikes over pensions... for now

 

Doctors have suspended plans for more strikes over pension reforms but have said they will not rule out further industrial action in future.

The British Medical Association promised to "step up" campaigning on the issue yesterday, having refused to carry out non-urgent work last month in opposition to the Government's plans.

Meeting in Edinburgh, the organisation's council said ministers were "totally unjustified" in raising the age of retirement for doctors to 68 and in calling for increased pension contributions from staff. But its members have agreed to pursue negotiation before considering another day of picketing hospitals and clinics.

The council's chairman, Dr Mark Porter, said: "Doctors' anger with the Government for tearing up a pensions deal reached only four years ago and which made the scheme sustainable for the future will not just go away.

"We would always far prefer to seek changes to the Government's plans for NHS pensions through negotiation and lobbying, rather than taking action that could jeopardise the much-valued relationship with our patients."

The Department of Health welcomed talks. "Our aim has always been to achieve a pension that is fair to staff and to the taxpayer and will mean that the NHS pension scheme will remain one of the best available," a spokesman said.

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