Newly elected leader of BMA seeks urgent talks with health minister over strike threat

 

The newly elected leader of the British Medical Association is seeking urgent talks with the Government after doctors unanimously voted for further industrial action if pension negotiations are not re-opened.

Dr Mark Porter, an anaesthetist from Coventry, faces a tough start to his three-year tenure at the BMA amid concerns that more strikes could threaten public support for the profession. But the mood among doctors on the final day of the BMA’s annual general meeting in Bournemouth was grimly determined.

An emergency motion passed today included the possible withdrawal of doctors from new clinical commissioning groups, which could destabilise the Government’s controversial NHS reforms. However, it fell short of calling for a new date for strike action.

Dr Kevin O’Kane, an emergency medicine consultant, said: “Andrew Lansley is not content to milk the cash cow, he thinks he can slaughter the cow and carry on milking it, but it doesn’t work that way...doctors are not just going to lie there and let you keep kicking sand in our faces.”

But Dr Porter tonight said that a final decision on further action had been delayed until 18 July.

“We need to explore the potential for a further agreement...doctors are very angry at what’s happening with NHS pensions.

“We have always sought talks taking place on a fair and reasonable basis, and that’s what we want to do.”

The doctors also passed a motion calling for the resignation of Health Minister Andrew Lansley, declaring that he had misled the public and the profession, and could not be trusted to run the health service.

This vote of no confidence reflected the anger among many of the BMA doctors towards the coalition government’s controversial reorganisation of the NHS, and the perceived move toward privatisation. 

But those speaking against it said it would make it impossible for the new chairman to negotiate with Mr Lansley.

Shadow health secretary Andy Burnham was quick to pounce, calling the vote a “crushing defeat” for Mr Lansley, though it reality it was a pretty close vote.

The doctors are aggrieved by what they feel is an unfair attack on their pensions deal, especially as a new deal was only struck in 2008. They argue that the NHS pension fund is healthy and sustainable with an annual £2bn surplus, but the government says this is a misleading as within a few years, there will be more money going out of the pot than being paid in.

The government insists the reforms are non-negotiable, because they are necessary for the long-term sustainability of public finances. Thousands of operations and non-urgent appointments were cancelled last week as doctors took their first industrial action in 40 years.

Outside the debating hall The Independent spoke to GPs, paediatrician's and anaesthetists who all said the mood at the conference reflected the feelings among most doctors across the UK.

“The government is mistaking doctors’ dedication and commitment to their patients for weakness,” said one paediatrician.

In his final speech as chair on Monday, Dr Hamish Meldrum urged the union to find a “sensible way out” of the dispute or risk losing the public’s trust.

Mr Lansley said: “Our proposals are fair to staff and to the taxpayer and mean that the NHS pension scheme will remain one of the best anywhere. But we cannot prioritise doctors over all the other health workers.”

Life and Style
ebookNow available in paperback
ebooks
ebookPart of The Independent’s new eBook series The Great Composers
  • Get to the point
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

    Recruitment Genius: Photographer / Floorplanner / Domestic Energy Assessor

    £16000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Photographer/ Floor planner /...

    Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Surrey - £40,000

    £30000 - £40000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Front-End Developer - Guildford/Craw...

    Recruitment Genius: Customer Service Assistant

    £13500 - £15000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Customer Service Assistant is...

    Recruitment Genius: Sales Executive - OTE £35,000

    £16000 - £35000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An ambitious and motivated Sale...

    Day In a Page

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    Not even the 'putrid throat' could stop the Ross Poldark swoon-fest'

    How a costume drama became a Sunday night staple
    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers as he pushes Tories on housing

    Miliband promises no stamp duty for first-time buyers

    Labour leader pushes Tories on housing
    Aviation history is littered with grand failures - from the the Bristol Brabazon to Concorde - but what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?

    Aviation history is littered with grand failures

    But what went wrong with the SuperJumbo?
    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of Soviet-style 'iron curtains' right across Europe

    Fortress Europe?

    Fear of Putin, Islamists and immigration is giving rise to a new generation of 'iron curtains'
    Never mind what you're wearing, it's what you're reclining on

    Never mind what you're wearing

    It's what you're reclining on that matters
    General Election 2015: Chuka Umunna on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband

    Chuka Umunna: A virus of racism runs through Ukip

    The shadow business secretary on the benefits of immigration, humility – and his leader Ed Miliband
    Yemen crisis: This exotic war will soon become Europe's problem

    Yemen's exotic war will soon affect Europe

    Terrorism and boatloads of desperate migrants will be the outcome of the Saudi air campaign, says Patrick Cockburn
    Marginal Streets project aims to document voters in the run-up to the General Election

    Marginal Streets project documents voters

    Independent photographers Joseph Fox and Orlando Gili are uploading two portraits of constituents to their website for each day of the campaign
    Game of Thrones: Visit the real-life kingdom of Westeros to see where violent history ends and telly tourism begins

    The real-life kingdom of Westeros

    Is there something a little uncomfortable about Game of Thrones shooting in Northern Ireland?
    How to survive a social-media mauling, by the tough women of Twitter

    How to survive a Twitter mauling

    Mary Beard, Caroline Criado-Perez, Louise Mensch, Bunny La Roche and Courtney Barrasford reveal how to trounce the trolls
    Gallipoli centenary: At dawn, the young remember the young who perished in one of the First World War's bloodiest battles

    At dawn, the young remember the young

    A century ago, soldiers of the Empire – many no more than boys – spilt on to Gallipoli’s beaches. On this 100th Anzac Day, there are personal, poetic tributes to their sacrifice
    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves

    Follow the money as never before

    Dissent is slowly building against the billions spent on presidential campaigns – even among politicians themselves, reports Rupert Cornwell
    Samuel West interview: The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents

    Samuel West interview

    The actor and director on austerity, unionisation, and not mentioning his famous parents
    General Election 2015: Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Imagine if the leading political parties were fashion labels

    Fashion editor, Alexander Fury, on what the leaders' appearances tell us about them
    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    Phumzile Mlambo-Ngcuka: Home can be the unsafest place for women

    The architect of the HeForShe movement and head of UN Women on the world's failure to combat domestic violence