Doctors threaten first strike in 40 years – over £48,000 pensions

BMA to hold ballot next month as Government asks members to work longer for less money

Doctors' leaders escalated their dispute with the Government over planned changes to their pensions yesterday after a British Medical Association survey showed almost two out of three would back some form of industrial action.

But the ruling BMA council declined to order an immediate ballot of its 130,000 members until an emergency meeting on 25 February. Instead, it settled for a formal letter to the Government rejecting its latest offer and demanding the reopening of negotiations. It said it would "work up detailed plans on taking industrial action". Last month, the BMA accepted that the Government had made its "final" offer and that talks had gone "as far as they can".

The announcement came as the Royal College of Nursing declared it was moving to oppose the Health and Social Care Bill, citing concerns about privatisation and staffing levels, and the head of the BMA warned of a "perfect storm" heading for the NHS, with rising waiting lists and "impossible" efficiency savings, in an interview in the New Statesman.

The pensions dispute is over changes that will see doctors pay more in contributions, work longer and receive less, in line with Government proposals for all public-sector pensions.

The BMA calculates that a doctor aged 25 today who becomes a consultant will pay more than £240,000 extra over a lifetime and work eight years longer (from the current retirement age of 60 to 68) to receive an annual pension of £70,000. But the average pension in the public sector is about £7,000 and senior doctors know there would be little public support for a BMA-led dispute.

The committee chairman Dr Tom Black said recently: "It's not going to be pleasant and we won't come out looking like knights in shining armour. That's our job, this is the BMA, and our job is to fight for the members."

The last time doctors went on strike was in the 1970s over junior doctors' working conditions. Consultants also worked to rule in protest at a government plan to remove private patient beds from hospitals. The BMA has threatened action several times since but has always stopped short of taking it.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of BMA Council said: "Forcing doctors to work to almost 70 is one of our most serious concerns as it could put pressure on doctors to work beyond the age at which they feel competent and safe. The Government must urgently reconsider its damaging plans."

But a Department of Health spokesman said: "Under the current scheme, a typical consultant retiring at 60 will receive a pension of £48,000 a year for life. In addition, they will receive a tax-free lump sum of around £143,000 – this equates to a pension pot of over £1.7m in the private sector. This is unsustainable."

* Hospital finances will be assessed by credit-rating agencies, like those that keep downgrading eurozone countries, under plans proposed by Monitor, the NHS regulator. Hospitals that fail to reach minimum levels will lose their licence to operate.

Pensions row: Where the unions stand

Royal College of Nursing To ballot all its members on whether to accept the Government's pension reforms. Result due 28 February.

GMB Still negotiating with local government employers over changes to council workers' pension scheme.

Unite Has rejected proposals on the local government, health and civil service schemes. Consulting members on next move.

Public and Commercial Services Union Has rejected all plans for reforming civil servant pensions. No longer part of talks.

NUT Along with the other teaching unions the NASUWT, UCU and UCAC, it has not "signed up" to the heads of agreement document. Now consulting its members on the next move.

Association of Teachers and Lecturers Along with the ASCL, NAHT and Voice, the ATL is consulting its members on the agreement put forward in December. The result is expected by the end of this month.

Unison Still in negotiations with its executives, and due to discuss next steps today.

Sport
Luis Suarez and Lionel Messi during Barcelona training in August
footballPete Jenson co-ghost wrote Suarez’s autobiography and reveals how desperate he's been to return
News
newsMcKamey Manor says 'there is no escape until the tour is completed'
Voices
Hunted: A stag lies dead on Jura, where David Cameron holidays and has himself stalked deer
voicesThe Scotland I know is becoming a playground for the rich
News
people
PROMOTED VIDEO
Life and Style
ebooksA superb mix of recipes serving up the freshest of local produce in a delicious range of styles
Life and Style
ebooksFrom the lifespan of a slug to the distance to the Sun: answers to 500 questions from readers
Arts and Entertainment
Architect Frank Gehry is regarded by many as the most important architect of the modern era
arts + entsGehry has declared that 98 per cent of modern architecture is "s**t"
Money
Welcome to tinsel town: retailers such as Selfridges will be Santa's little helpers this Christmas, working hard to persuade shoppers to stock up on gifts
news
Arts and Entertainment
Soul singer Sam Smith cleared up at the Mobo awards this week
newsSam Smith’s Mobo triumph is just the latest example of a trend
News
Laurence Easeman and Russell Brand
people
Sport
Fans of Dulwich Hamlet FC at their ground Champion Hill
footballFans are rejecting the £2,000 season tickets, officious stewarding, and airline-stadium sponsorship
News
Shami Chakrabarti
people
Arts and Entertainment
Benedict Cumberbatch has refused to deny his involvement in the upcoming new Star Wars film
filmBenedict Cumberbatch reignites Star Wars 7 rumours
Sport
football
News
news
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

ES Rentals

    Independent Dating
    and  

    By clicking 'Search' you
    are agreeing to our
    Terms of Use.

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs General

    Business Analyst - Surrey - Permanent - Up to £50k DOE

    £40000 - £50000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***ASP.NET Developer - Cheshire - £35k - Permanent***

    £30000 - £35000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    ***Solutions Architect*** - Brighton - £40k - Permanent

    £35000 - £40000 Per Annum Excellent benefits: Clearwater People Solutions Ltd:...

    Senior Research Fellow in Gender, Food and Resilient Communities

    £47,334 - £59,058 per annum: Coventry University: The Centre for Agroecology, ...

    Day In a Page

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

    Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

    Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

    Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

    The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

    Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
    Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

    Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

    The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
    DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

    Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

    Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
    The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

    Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

    The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

    Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

    The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    11 best sonic skincare brushes

    Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
    Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

    Paul Scholes column

    I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

    While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
    Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

    Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

    A crime that reveals London's dark heart

    How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
    Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

    Lost in translation: Western monikers

    Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
    Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

    Handy hacks that make life easier

    New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
    KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

    KidZania: It's a small world

    The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker