Observations Medicine and the Media

NHS pensions: all the rage

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.e613 (Published 25 January 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e613
  1. Margaret McCartney, general practitioner, Glasgow
  1. margaret{at}margaretmccartney.com

In its reporting on doctors’ unhappiness over proposed changes to the NHS pension, the press has portrayed a moaning profession that is losing the respect of the public. But that’s far from the full story, writes Margaret McCartney

On 18 January the BMA issued a press release saying that there was “an overwhelming call from doctors to reject the government’s proposed changes to the NHS pension scheme and a willingness to undertake some form of industrial action.” The BMA had polled 130 000 doctors and had a 38% response rate; 84% of respondents rejected the proposals, and 63% were prepared to take some form of strike action.1 2 This invoked widespread and mainly hostile press coverage.

A leader in the Daily Telegraph said, “It is one of the golden rules of British politics: never pick a fight with a doctor . . . For doctors to threaten industrial action over pension reforms is simply unacceptable, especially since they collared such spectacular rewards during the New Labour years . . . To their credit, most doctors have rejected strike action per se, but the public will have little patience with …

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