Are doctors justified in taking industrial action in defence of their pensions? Yes

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e3242 (Published 8 May 2012)
Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3242

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  1. Alan Robertson, chairman
  1. 1BMA Pensions Committee, London WC1H 9JP, UK
  1. alanjrobertson.uk{at}gmail.com

Alan Robertson believes that well planned action can ensure patient safety, but Julian Bion (doi:10.1136/bmj.e3175) thinks it will damage doctors’ professional reputation as well as compromising care

The last time it happened, the Bay City Rollers were Britain’s most popular band, people were queuing round the block to see Jaws, and Barbara Castle was secretary of state for health and social services.

Don’t worry—this isn’t an “I love 1975” nostalgia trip. Like most of the young(ish) doctors who will be most deeply and unfairly affected by the changes to NHS pensions, I wasn’t even born the last time UK doctors were balloted on industrial action. The point is that it is extremely rare for us to reach this point. Doctors, or the BMA, do not take the prospect of industrial action lightly. In fact, we have gone to great lengths to avoid it, pursuing every possible avenue to press the government on a fairer way forward.

We have repeatedly articulated the many strong arguments against wholesale changes to the NHS pension scheme. Its 2008 overhaul resulted in higher contributions, a higher …

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