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

Austen Lloyd: Corporate Tax Associate - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - HIGHEST QUALITY INTERNATIONAL FIRM - A...

Austen Lloyd: Senior Law Costs - London City

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: CITY - EXCELLENT FIRM - We have an outstandin...

Austen Lloyd: In-House Solicitor / Company Secretary - London

Excellent Package: Austen Lloyd: IN-HOUSE - NATIONAL CHARITY - An exciting and...

Austen Lloyd: Commercial Property Solicitor - Exeter

Excellent Salary: Austen Lloyd: EXETER - A great new opportunity with real pot...

Day In a Page

Read Next
 

Errors & Omissions: Magna Carta, sexing bishops and ministerial aides

John Rentoul
 

‘They’ve seen the future – and got it for a song’: the unlikely history of Canary Wharf

Jack Brown
Isis hostage crisis: The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power

Isis hostage crisis

The prisoner swap has only one purpose for the militants - recognition its Islamic State exists and that foreign nations acknowledge its power, says Robert Fisk
Missing salvage expert who found $50m of sunken treasure before disappearing, tracked down at last

The runaway buccaneers and the ship full of gold

Salvage expert Tommy Thompson found sunken treasure worth millions. Then he vanished... until now
Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Homeless Veterans appeal: ‘If you’re hard on the world you are hard on yourself’

Maverick artist Grayson Perry backs our campaign
Assisted Dying Bill: I want to be able to decide about my own death - I want to have control of my life

Assisted Dying Bill: 'I want control of my life'

This week the Assisted Dying Bill is debated in the Lords. Virginia Ironside, who has already made plans for her own self-deliverance, argues that it's time we allowed people a humane, compassionate death
Move over, kale - cabbage is the new rising star

Cabbage is king again

Sophie Morris banishes thoughts of soggy school dinners and turns over a new leaf
11 best winter skin treats

Give your moisturiser a helping hand: 11 best winter skin treats

Get an extra boost of nourishment from one of these hard-working products
Paul Scholes column: The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him

Paul Scholes column

The more Jose Mourinho attempts to influence match officials, the more they are likely to ignore him
Frank Warren column: No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans

Frank Warren's Ringside

No cigar, but pots of money: here come the Cubans
Isis hostage crisis: Militant group stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

Isis stands strong as its numerous enemies fail to find a common plan to defeat it

The jihadis are being squeezed militarily and economically, but there is no sign of an implosion, says Patrick Cockburn
Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action

Virtual reality: Seeing is believing

Virtual reality thrusts viewers into the frontline of global events - and puts film-goers at the heart of the action
Homeless Veterans appeal: MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’

Homeless Veterans appeal

MP says Coalition ‘not doing enough’ to help
Larry David, Steve Coogan and other comedians share stories of depression in new documentary

Comedians share stories of depression

The director of the new documentary, Kevin Pollak, tells Jessica Barrett how he got them to talk
Has The Archers lost the plot with it's spicy storylines?

Has The Archers lost the plot?

A growing number of listeners are voicing their discontent over the rural soap's spicy storylines; so loudly that even the BBC's director-general seems worried, says Simon Kelner
English Heritage adds 14 post-war office buildings to its protected lists

14 office buildings added to protected lists

Christopher Beanland explores the underrated appeal of these palaces of pen-pushing
Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Human skull discovery in Israel proves humans lived side-by-side with Neanderthals

Scientists unearthed the cranial fragments from Manot Cave in West Galilee