Doctors at the British Medical Association (BMA) conference have voted to take more industrial action against government attacks on their pensions.
The emergency motion passed by BMA delegates in Bournemouth said future action “should be in conjunction with other public sector unions”.
It follows last week’s industrial action by doctors that saw them refuse non-urgent work.
The motion also argued for doctors to adopt more imaginative tactics such as withdrawing from some commissioning activities.
The Tories want doctors to play a key role in commissioning—a centrepiece of their drive to privatise the NHS.
The BMA conference platform agreed that we had been treated disgracefully on pensions. But they refused to set a date for further action.
Many suspect the leadership is be looking to a quick deal with the government. But the government does not seem to be in the mood for any deal at all—so further action is likely.
Doctors also discussed the action we took last week. It was patchy—despite a high turnout in the ballot and a high vote in favour. Areas such as Scotland and Tower Hamlets had high participation, others much less.
Why? Here in Tower Hamlets doctors went to make explicit connections between our action over pensions and the wider need to defend the NHS and public services.
We’d rehearsed the arguments that the money for pensions and the NHS was available. The 1,000 individuals on the Sunday Times Rich List increased their wealth by £155 billion in the last three years—so we knew the country isn’t broke.
We held a rally where we discussed the link between the attack on pensions and NHS privatisation. As Danny Alexander, chief secretary to the treasury, baldly stated, the new pensions arrangements will be “substantially more affordable to alternative providers”.
Some practices had unofficially supported the 30 November public sector pensions strike. Our GPs understood that they were taking action not just for their own pensions, but because all public sector were under attack—low paid as well as better paid.