Intended for healthcare professionals

Rapid response to:

Head To Head

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

BMJ 2012; 344 doi: (Published 08 May 2012) Cite this as: BMJ 2012;344:e3242

Rapid Response:

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

I was extremely disappointed to see that BMA members voted to strike for a number of reasons. Firstly, doctors are an extremely well paid profession and have (and will remain to have) one of the best pension schemes in western Europe. According to recent government and GMC figures the average salary of a GP is almost £110,000, and under government plans a newly qualified doctor can expect to retire with a pension of £68,000 per year. In the same period where the government has increased the basic state pension to approx £140 and the Scottish Executive have tried to continue to fund a struggling social care service, is it not reasonable that well paid public sector professionals pay something towards this?

Secondly, the strike itself has received limited public support and has been seen as a very selfish move by many of the public on a background of public sector cuts to agencies/people who earn much less. Such public irritation will not help the recent drop of 11% of public satisfaction for the NHS. In addition, the majority of the UK medical professionare not BMA members and will not be striking but all doctors are being tarred with the same brush. Thirdly, and most importantly the strike will not achieve anything but to increase frustration with the profession. Looking at the long term results of strikes by the medical profession in South Africa, Hungary, Israel and Slovakia is less than inspiring.

The gap between the daily lives, education levels, housing and indeed health of (middle-class) doctors and some of their patients is stark and I feel that striking over a proposal will only worsen this divide.

Competing interests: I am a member of the Liberal Democrat party.

13 June 2012
Lloyd Hughes
4th Year Medical Student
University of Dundee
Ninewells Hospital Dundee