UK doctors are threatening industrial action for the first time in 37 years in a row over pension changes.
The British Medical Association is balloting 100,000 doctors over proposals for the 24 hour strike – the first ballot since 1975.
The BMA is arguing that the pension reforms proposed by the Government mean NHS staff will have to work longer and contribute as much as 14.5% of their pay to their pension, which it claims is almost twice as much as some other public sector workers on similar pay, for similar pensions.
It says changes are being imposed without genuine negotiation.
Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: “This is not where we set out to be – industrial action is only ever a last resort.
“However, the Government’s refusal to rethink its unnecessary reforms to a pension scheme that is already affordable and sustainable has left us with no alternative. We are not talking about a full withdrawal of labour. All emergency and urgent care would be provided, and doctors would still be at their usual places of work.”
But health minister Simon Burns said pension reform is necessary because people are living longer, healthier lives, and the proposals deliver a fair deal for both staff and taxpayers.
He said: “There is no justification for doctors to take industrial action. Industrial action, on anyone’s part, will gain them nothing. We negotiated an agreement with the staff unions, including the BMA.”
According to Burns, a doctor joining a new scheme after 2015 could expect a pension of around £68,000 per year at state retirement age.
The ballot will close on May 29, with the results announced the following day.