Leading article: The shameful self-interest of doctors

 

Share
Related Topics

First it was civil servants, then teachers, and now doctors. The list of public sector professions taking industrial action grows only longer. Given the parlous state of government finances, and the sharp squeeze on private sector workers, such widespread obstinacy over still-generous pension arrangements is misguided. From the doctors, it is inexcusable.

The British Medical Association claims that the plans for the NHS pension scheme are deeply unfair. Not only must all work longer, but the highest earners will see their contributions rise to more than 14 per cent, significantly higher than those of similarly paid civil servants.

The arguments are neither financially nor morally valid. On the matter of fairness, the appropriate comparison is not with equivalents in Whitehall – who are part of a different scheme – but with less well-paid colleagues in the NHS. It is in order to protect the latter that doctors must pay more, and that is how it should be.

Neither is there a legitimate financial grievance. Not only are doctors the highest-paid public servants – helped along by a new GP contract, in 2004, which saw salaries rocket and out-of-hours working cut back. Their pensions will also remain bounteous, even after the proposed changes. Medics starting their careers now can expect £68,000 per year after they retire, an income that would require a pension pot of more than £1m in the private sector.

And then, of course, there is the question of patient care. The BMA is stressing that safety is still the priority. While elective hip surgery will not go ahead on next month's "day of action", the sick and injured will be treated in the normal way, much as the NHS functions on a bank holiday. But that is hardly the point.

Until now, doctors have retained their place among the most respected of public servants. Such naked self-interest, at a time of widespread hardship, cannot but call that trust into question. Although the vast majority of the BMA's 140,000 members voted for industrial action, some younger medics are worried a strike will damage their position in the public eye. They are right. The doctors should be ashamed of themselves.

React Now

Latest stories from i100
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Reach Volunteering: Financial Trustee and Company Secretary

Voluntary Only - Expenses Reimbursed: Reach Volunteering: A trustee (company d...

Recruitment Genius: Senior Project Manager

£45000 - £65000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...

Recruitment Genius: Shopfitter

Negotiable: Recruitment Genius: This is an opportunity to join a successful an...

Recruitment Genius: Digital Sales Account Manager

£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: A Digital Sales Account Manager...

Day In a Page

Read Next
UK Border Control  

Do you think I'm feckless? I worked for two years in the Netherlands

David Ryan
Bob Geldof  

Ebola is a political AND a medical disease

Paul Vallely
Mau Mau uprising: Kenyans still waiting for justice join class action over Britain's role in the emergency

Kenyans still waiting for justice over Mau Mau uprising

Thousands join class action over Britain's role in the emergency
Isis in Iraq: The trauma of the last six months has overwhelmed the remaining Christians in the country

The last Christians in Iraq

After 2,000 years, a community will try anything – including pretending to convert to Islam – to avoid losing everything, says Patrick Cockburn
Black Friday: Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Helpful discounts for Christmas shoppers, or cynical marketing by desperate retailers?

Britain braced for Black Friday
Bill Cosby's persona goes from America's dad to date-rape drugs

From America's dad to date-rape drugs

Stories of Bill Cosby's alleged sexual assaults may have circulated widely in Hollywood, but they came as a shock to fans, says Rupert Cornwell
Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

Clare Balding: 'Women's sport is kicking off at last'

As fans flock to see England women's Wembley debut against Germany, the TV presenter on an exciting 'sea change'
Oh come, all ye multi-faithful: The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?

Oh come, all ye multi-faithful

The Christmas jumper is in fashion, but should you wear your religion on your sleeve?
Dr Charles Heatley: The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

The GP off to do battle in the war against Ebola

Dr Charles Heatley on joining the NHS volunteers' team bound for Sierra Leone
Flogging vlogging: First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books

Flogging vlogging

First video bloggers conquered YouTube. Now they want us to buy their books
Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show: US channels wage comedy star wars

Saturday Night Live vs The Daily Show

US channels wage comedy star wars
When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine? When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible

When is a wine made in Piedmont not a Piemonte wine?

When EU rules make Italian vineyards invisible
Look what's mushrooming now! Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector

Look what's mushrooming now!

Meat-free recipes and food scandals help one growing sector
Neil Findlay is more a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

More a pink shrimp than a red firebrand

The vilification of the potential Scottish Labour leader Neil Findlay shows how one-note politics is today, says DJ Taylor
Bill Granger recipes: Tenderstem broccoli omelette; Fried eggs with Mexican-style tomato and chilli sauce; Pan-fried cavolo nero with soft-boiled egg

Oeuf quake

Bill Granger's cracking egg recipes
Terry Venables: Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back

Terry Venables column

Wayne Rooney is roaring again and the world knows that England are back
Michael Calvin: Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Abject leadership is allowing football’s age-old sores to fester

Those at the top are allowing the same issues to go unchallenged, says Michael Calvin